- McDonald's -

'Reports' showing no incresed death among meat-eaters.

Posted by: LEJ on February 14, 19100 at 11:45:59:

Look at this "letter" from the British Medical Journal (1994;309:955).

Risk of death in meat and non-meat eaters

EDITOR, - Margaret Thorogood and colleagues omit what is arguably the most important summary statistic from the abstract of their paper comparing mortality in vegetarians with that in meat eaters. A comparison of total (all cause) mortality after five years (after the well known "healthy volunteer effect" has had time to wear off) shows a relative risk of 0.99 (95% confidence interval 0.76 to 1.30). Classifying (and comparing) cause of death is more subjective than is reporting the fact of death itself. Jan P Vandenbroucke has remarked on he authors' unusual method of selecting controls.1 Burr and Sweetnam compared similar numbers of vegetarian volunteers with non- vegetarian volunteers invited in a comparable manner and found a death rate ratio (all causes) of 0.96 (0.81 to 1.13), which did not alter appreciably after the exclusion of early deaths (those occurring in the first year). Vegetarian volunteers clearly have a low standardised mortality ratio, comparable to that of university teachers and ministers of the church but perhaps no lower than that of similarly health conscious meat eating volunteers.

R West


Thorogood M, Mann J, Appleby P, McPherson K. Risk of death from cancer and ischaemic heart disease in meat and non-meat eaters. [Commentary by J P Vandenbroucke.] BMJ 1994;308:1667-71. (25 June.)

Alderson MR. International mortality statistics. London: Macmillan, 1981.

Burr ML, Sweetnam PM. Vegetarianism, dietary fibre and mortality. Am J Clin Nutr 1982;36:873-7. University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff CF4 4XN.

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