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How the Lead Paint and Gas Industries Got Away with It

We have known for thousands of years that lead can be toxic and for more than a century that children could be poisoned by lead paint. Since those first cases, the “lead industry has mobilized against the advances of science,” as I discuss in my video How the Lead Paint Industry Got Away with It.

By 1926, lead poisoning was already “of relatively frequent occurrence in children,” yet “the United States continued to allow the use of lead-based paint until 1978.” In contrast, in Europe, many countries said, Hmm, poisoning children? No, thanks. and “banned the use of lead-based paint as early as 1909.” 

“The delay in banning lead-based paint in the United States was due largely to the marketing and lobbying efforts of the lead industry,” profiting from the poison. It knew it couldn’t hold off forever, but the industry boasted that its “victories have been in the deferral of implementation of…regulations.”

And now, “peeling paint turns into poisonous dust,” and guess where it ends up? As a Mount Sinai dean and a Harvard neurology professor put it: “Lead is a devastating poison. It damages children’s brains, erodes intelligence, diminishes creativity…” and judgment and language. Yet, despite the accumulating evidence, the lead industry didn’t just fail to warn people—“it engaged in an energetic promotion of lead paint.” After all, a can of pure white lead paint had huge amounts of lead, which meant huge profits for the industry.

But, as you can see in an old advertisement featured at 1:55 in my video, “[t]here is no cause for worry” if your toddler rubs up against lead paint, because those “fingerprint smudges or dirt spots” can be removed “easily without harming the paint.” Wouldn’t want to harm the paint. After all, “painted walls are sanitary…”

The director of the Lead Industry Association blamed the victims: “Childhood lead poisoning is essentially a problem of slum dwellings and relatively ignorant parents.”

“It seems that no amount of evidence, no health statistics, no public outrage could get industry to care that their lead paint was killing and poisoning children,” but how much public outrage was there really?

“It goes without saying that lead is a devastating, debilitating poison” and that “literally millions of children have been diagnosed with varying degrees of elevated blood lead levels…” Compare that to polio, for example. “In the 1950s, for example, fewer than sixty thousand new cases of polio per year created a near-panic among American parents and a national mobilization that led to vaccination campaigns that virtually wiped out the disease within a decade.” In contrast, despite “many millions of children [who have] had their lives altered for the worse by exposure to lead…[a]t no point in the past hundred years has there been a similar national mobilization over lead.” Today, after literally a century, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates over five hundred thousand children still suffer from “elevated blood-lead levels.”

The good news is that blood lead levels are in decline, which is celebrated as one of our great public health achievements. But, given what we knew, and for how long we knew, “it is presumptuous to declare the decline in childhood lead poisoning a public health victory.” Indeed, “even if we were victorious…it would be a victory diminished by our failure to learn from the epidemic and take steps to dramatically reduce exposures to other confirmed and suspected environmental toxicants as well as chemicals of uncertain toxicity.”

That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this series on lead. We need to learn from our history so the next time some industry wants to sell something to our kids, we’ll stick to the science. And, of course, lead levels aren’t declining for everyone.

As the whistle-blowing pediatrician who helped expose the Flint drinking water crisis explained, “The people in Flint have a 20-year lower life expectancy than people in a neighboring suburb. We were already struggling with every barrier to our children’s success. Then we gave them lead.”

Her research showed that the switch in water supplies from the Great Lakes to the polluted Flint River “created a perfect storm” for lead contamination, doubling the percentage of kids with elevated lead levels in their blood, as you can see at 0:42 in my video How the Leaded Gas Industry Got Away with It, whereas out in the suburbs, where the water supply remained unchanged, children’s lead levels stayed about the same. That’s how she knew it was the switch in water supplies. That’s what broke the story of the Flint crisis: a doubling of elevated lead levels.

But wait a moment: Even before the switch from Lake Huron to the polluted Flint River, when everyone was getting the same water, lead levels in children in Flint were twice that of the suburbs. There was already a doubling in elevated lead levels in Flint and other poor communities around the country, but where have all the crisis headlines been? Indeed, even with all the bottled water in the world, the children in Flint will continue to live in a lead-polluted environment.

Many have pointed out the irony that the new water from the Flint River was “so corrosive” that the nearby General Motors plant switched back to a clean water source when it started noticing rust spots on its new parts, all while water quality complaints from Flint residents were being ignored. But, there is an additional irony: General Motors is a major reason why the world is so contaminated with lead in the first place, as GM invented leaded gasoline. “Shortly after manufacture began, workers…began to become floridly psychotic and die.”

“In the wake of blaring headlines” about the lead-poisoned workers, public health leaders “warned of the potential for damage to broad swaths of the population” posed by putting this “well established toxin” into gasoline, “into the daily lives of millions of people. Yet, despite these warnings, millions…were harmed…and this entirely preventable poisoning still occurs today.”

“Virtually all the lead in the environment is there as a result of human activity.” Because we put it there. It used to be locked away, deep underground or under the ocean, but that was before we drove it around the Earth. “In the early 1970s, 200,000 tons of lead was emitted from automobiles in the United States each year, mostly in urban areas.” Had lead not been added to gasoline, the industry would have had to use higher-octane gas, which is less profitable. So, the “oil and lead industries…successfully thwarted government efforts to limit lead in gasoline for 50 years.” But, how were they able to do that? “Early public health warnings were not heeded because the industry assured the scientific community and the public that there was no danger.” I could see how a gullible public might be swayed by slick PR, but how do you manipulate the scientific community? By manipulating the science.

“The lead industry was able to achieve its influence in large part by being the primary supporter of research on health effects of lead,” and it got the best science money could buy. “Long before Big Tobacco, the lead industry understood the inestimable value of purchasing ‘good science.’”

“Consequently, the vast majority of relevant studies of lead in gasoline published [for decades]…were favorable to the lead industries.” What’s more, they “even sent a delegation to try to convince the U.S. EPA administrator that the lead regulation was not necessary because they alleged lead was an essential mineral required for optimum growth and development.”

Of course, the exact opposite is true. Lead is toxic to development. There are, however, nutritional interventions that can help alleviate lead toxicity. For example, there are food components that can help decrease the absorption of lead and help flush it out of your body. I’ve produced a series of three videos on specific dietary interventions, such as particular foods to eat, but—spoiler alert—in general, “food patterns that reduce susceptibility to lead toxicity are consistent with the recommendations for a healthy diet.”

As soon as I learned about the unfolding crisis in Flint, Michigan, I knew I had to take a deep dive into the medical literature to see if there is anything these kids might be able to do diet-wise to reduce their body burden.

Most of the time when I cover a subject on NutritionFacts.org, I’ve addressed it previously, so I just have to research the new studies published in the interim. But I had never really looked deeply into lead poisoning before, so I was faced with more than a century of science to dig through. Yes, I did discover there were foods that could help, but I also learned about cautionary tales like this one about our shameful history with leaded paint. By learning this lesson, hopefully, we can put more critical thought into preventing future disasters that can arise when our society allows profits to be placed over people.


This is part of a series on lead. You can view the rest of the series here:

 You may also be interested in How to Lower Heavy Metal Levels with Diet.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like:

What relevance does this have for us today? See, for example, my video How Smoking in 1959 Is Like Eating in 2019.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


33 responses to “How the Lead Paint and Gas Industries Got Away with It

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  1. A very good read:

    A terrible thing to waste : environmental racism and its assault on the American mind
    Author: Washington, Harriet A., author.
    ISBN: 9780316509435

  2. Thanks for this historical dig on lead’s toxicity and the industries corrupting the science to make huge profits. Just as lead is toxic, so are in ingredients in vaccines. Vaccines aren’t even tested for safety compared to over the counter drugs, and still the pharma companies have managed to corrupt institutions and sway public opinion in their favor; even when there is huge evidence of injuries and deaths. Being a doctor and nutritionist, how do you still support vaccines?

  3. “Had lead not been added to gasoline, the industry would have had to use higher-octane gas, which is less profitable. So, the “oil and lead industries…successfully thwarted government efforts to limit lead in gasoline for 50 years.”

    AFAIK this is incorrect. The source of lead in gas was tetra ethyl lead which is a big, heavy gas molecule used to cushen valve seats. The engine manufacturers had to add hardened valve seats to the cylinder heads when lead was removed from gas. Correct me if I’m wrong on this.

  4. Profits always trump ethics. Look at our wars. Look at medicine. Why don’t med schools teach
    doctors about the effects of food so that doctors could prevent rather than manage chronic disease?

  5. “We need to learn from our history so the next time some industry wants to sell something to our kids, we’ll stick to the science.”

    Oh please, I so respect you Dr. Gregor but to think that this is not going on today, is frankly naive. I refer you to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s book:

    Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak: The Evidence Supporting the Immediate Removal of Mercury?a Known Neurotoxin?from Vaccines

    The Simpsonwood papers and so much more.

    1. The evidence that scientifically designed and tested vaccines save lives is overwhelming.

      Of course vaccines may have side effects. All drugs and foods do too. That doesn’t affect the fact that smallpox, polio, yellow fever etc etc etc vaccines save lives.

      Believing the claims of rabid conspiracy theorists and others with mental health issues puts people’s lives at risk.

      1. How sad that you’ve resorted to calling names. Those who manufacture MSG are building up “racist” in their propaganda Not much different from “rabid conspiracy theorists” and people with “mental health issues.” Nice of you to mention that vaccines have side effects, but the whole truth includes the fact that “death” is one of them.

        1. We’ve seen multiple posts from you before that could politely be described as indicative of monomania.

          Mental health is a serious concern in the US

          ‘How common are mental illnesses?
          Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States.

          More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.3
          1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.4
          1 in 5 children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness.5
          1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.6’
          https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm

          People with bizarre counterfactual belief systems are arguably amongst them. Most importantly, accepting the absurd claims of such people about vaccines could put millions of lives at risk. This is simply unacceptable. Such claims need to be rejected in the strongest and frankest way possible.

          It doesn’t surprise in the least that you would be an antivaxxer

          ‘A sovereign citizen, a creationist, an anti-vaxxer, and a conspiracy theorist walk into a bar. He orders a drink.

          Crank magnetism is the condition where people become attracted to multiple crank ideas at the same time. Crank magnetism also denotes the tendency — even for otherwise “lone issue” cranks — to accumulate more crank beliefs over time. You know that old saying about not being so open-minded that your brain falls out? People with crank magnetism didn’t pay attention to that. Crank magnetism is an important stepping stone on the path towards being wrong all of the time.’
          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Crank_magnetism

          It’s not a joke though. When it comes to vaccines, crank beliefs have already arguably been responsible for many unnecessary deaths

          http://antivaccinebodycount.com/

          1. I would say you are wrong in only one sense: deteriorating mental health issues are not just common, they are epidemic in the USA. Restoring mental health on that scale is not going to happen soon and many if not most of these people are armed, dangerous and have an agenda. Not all the same agenda. It’s pretty scary to contemplate where this is all going.

            1. Some people are insulted by being outed as cranks. True.

              However, there is no reason why rational people should tiptoe around crazy beliefs and militant stupidity. Especially when the people with such beliefs are often aggressively trying to impose them on the rest of us.

              The real reason for calling a spade a spade, though, is that some of these crank beliefs put other people’s lives at risk. They should be confronted at every turn. Doing this may also prompt a few people to get the professional assistance they so obviously need.

    1. William, that saying, “Get the lead out” is brilliant for this blog.

      I suddenly wondered if it came from people pushing to get the lead out of gasoline, but, nope.

      Doesn’t seem like anybody knows where it started. Groucho Marx said it back on a game show in the 1960’s and people think he might have been talking about a pencil. Other people thought it went back to the UK and firing lead bullets faster or ballasts. Nobody knows is the answer.

      It means hurry up and the concept of using that for “getting the lead out” of the environment makes me smile.

      Over the past 2 days, I have decided to go solar with a solar generator and I am getting one that will power my whole house for 6 days if the power goes out. I am going to be close to off the grid.

      I have such a sense of “hurry up and be prepared” and I am doing it.

      I need to get rid of utilities and I want to help the environment and I just plain see the grid as vulnerable.

      I guess I am seeing all of these elderly people losing their houses when things like utilities and taxes go up and the numbers are rising by the thousands every single year. I think that drives my inner “get the lead out” and do something right now.

      Every decision that I make is toward hurrying up and making a difference, but also protecting myself.

      I am in the middle of learning about microinverters and the things that can protect me against fire.

      But once those decisions are made, I will have crossed cleaning, power, and I am no longer deciding which diet to eat. I feel like the overload of information will settle down soon. By God’s grace.

  6. A good read. And it should make us all think about our government agencies recommendations for health, food and the environment. And to question the “science” behind any and all recommendations. Who is paying for the study or research? If the research is implemented what is the long range outcome?

    I am a skeptic. Why you may ask. Because a majority of short term solutions lead to problems in the long run. Our recent power problems encountered in California with the heat wave started with the action of deregulation of the utilities in 2000 and the push for only renewable energy. Fortunately 3 power plants in Southern CA had not been shut down yet and were able to supply 66% of the power for the grid after sunset when there was no output from the solar or wind generator farms. This avoided power outages for 3 days according to our local newspaper.

    I’m also a cancer survivor that didn’t follow medical treatment recommendations in 2011. I was told that diet and exercise would not work for my advanced cancer and given 42 months. My oncologist today, not the one I had in 2011, calls me his one in 10,000. I credit it to the holistic diet that I went on for 4 years, lifestyle changes, my prayer support group and my faith in God. I’m praying for our national leaders to make wise decisions and to be open to advice from others. I’m hopeful our nation can return back to the biblical basis on which our nation was founded.

  7. If ever there was a one sided argument, this is it. I’m not saying that Dr. Greger is wrong at all. But there is far more to this story than he has told. In fact this is about a third of the story if that. Lead in paint and lead in fuels was not there to make anyone sick or happy.

    In paint, lead makes colours much brighter. The technology to achieve the same depth of hue was just not there and was not capable of being there until the 80s. The transition period from lead to VOCs which is what replaced lead became an even bigger problem with more and much nastier consequences that are still being researched for better solutions. Today, cars for instance are painted with water-base paints. The paint is not as tough as it was with either lead or VOC based paints. The cost of the paint is now a major cost of building a car or repairing a car. A thousand dollars a gallon is for cheap paint. It goes up from there for the good stuff.

    That’s paint. Fuel is another story. The reason lead was in the fuel was to boost octane and specifically to prevent engines from self-destructing. The lead is the physical cushion between the valves and the cylinder heads without lead, the valves would smash themselves and the rest of the engine in no time. That would cause an immediate return of the horse and buggy. That’s how big the issue was. It was one or the other. No one and I mean no one wanted to back to having horse shit two feet deep laying around on city streets. Festering horse shit was responsible for a lot of disease for centuries. THAT was what drove the race to develop internal combustion engines in the first place.

    But even that isn’t the end of the story. It took years of intense research to find a replacement for lead. The replacement turned out to be VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS (VOCs).

    VOCs are a family of chemicals derived from benzene. It’s a chemical that is so toxic there is no level of safety in any quantity that can be stated. It’s lethal. Lead is too but to a much lesser degree and acts slower. Hundreds of thousands of benzene derivatives are now fugitive in the planet’s air now at all times. No one knows what compounds they make as these formulas mix. Luckily, VOCs degrade when they touch water. But they take three days to degrade when they settle on the ground or on vegetation.

    The three day window is the excuse that was used to sell the authorities on the inability to persist in the environment. Somehow, no one thought about the fact that these chemicals would be emitted continuously. So VOCs have become cumulative in the atmosphere relieved only by rain. But there is so much quantity that you get a version of acid rain.

    VOCs acidify the environment and they are a huge reason why the planet’s surface water including all of the oceans that supply our oxygen are becoming so acidic that the oceans are heading towards planetary death. Essentially, the increased acidification is causing increased algea blooms planet wide. Eventually we will arrive at a tipping point where photosynthesis fails and earth’s atmosphere returns to pre-life condition.

    This phenomenon is easily observed in aquariums. Hobbyists soon find out how it works if they put a tank in a room where there is more sunlight than the closed system can tolerate. Nothing seems to be going on of any significance until overnight, all of the water in the tank turns green. If it is not changed, all of the algea dies and with it oxygen production ceases. That is exactly what is going to happen to this planet if we don’t get a handle on it soon. We already have massive dead zones for other reasons. Think of them as a precondition for atmospheric failure.

    But that isn’t all. VOCs are a threat to life in a completely different way. VOC molecules are so small they are classed as transdermals. That means they can migrate through skin. It means they can and do penetrate the body when we eat and breathe. Our body fluids are not water despite the fact that we are 90% water. VOCs can persist inside us and do.

    VOCs are corrosive. If they can be said to have a mission, that mission is to transform whatever they touch into a corrosive liquid. They are the chemical version of Covid-19.

    Inside you, they can scramble DNA and RNA. They are the genes, the cellular blueprints your body uses to replicate and replace your body’s cells as they age and die from natural causes, injuries or from stupid diets involving foods that ferment, acidify and degrade human tissue. That fermentation process enables cellular death due to Covid-19, cancer and at least 55 different degenerative diseases. VOCs upon encountering unnaturally acidic bodies find their work half done.

    VOCs once in the body cause tumours. Brain tumours for example. Brain tumors were why lead was removed from fuels. VOCs are much worse. That’s because lead is heavy and not nearly so inclined to stay airborne. VOCs not only stay airborne, they become one with the vegetation they land on. That increases the level of toxicity for all wildlife. Remember the honey bees? Remember the Frogs and Toads going extinct? VOCs are pushing many species towards extinction right now.

    To make matters worse, in 1978, the major oil companies changed up all of the aviation fuel to increase mileage. From that point, all aircraft became pesticide spray bombs. The planet has been sprayed with powerful pesticides ever since. The Covid-19 pandemic has granted the planet it’s very first break from spraying since 1978. We all know that wildlife has rebounded in the interim. That is a major reason why.

    Aviation emissions are killing the planet. The vegetation is all being coated with industrial bug killer that changes their DNA too. That’s why the extinctions. I did a comprehensive write up on it in 2005 that was reposted by some green group in 2008. It’s title is Frogs Are Us. That will give you some idea of how fruitless it has been on my part trying to warn people about what is happening.

    So there you go. That is the short version. The long version is far more gruesome.

    1. John Newell

      I did not wade through your entire comment.

      But your comments about VOCs are too simplistic and wrong. EG: You wrote: “ Luckily, VOCs degrade when they touch water. But they take three days to degrade when they settle on the ground or on vegetation.”

      But: “Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that both vaporize into air and dissolve in water. VOCs are pervasive in daily life, because they’re used in industry, agriculture, transportation, and day-to-day activities around the home. Once released into groundwater, many VOCs are persistent and can migrate to drinking-water supply wells.” https://www.usgs.gov/mission-areas/water-resources/science/volatile-organic-compounds-vocs?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects

      Perhaps you would enjoy taking an organic chemistry class. Or a deep dive into VOCs, which are a huge, pervasive group of chemicals used extensively in this country. For starters, you could read the entire article I posted. Then you could continue reading other credible scientific or technical sources.

      1. I will do that. Regardless, my points stand. VOCs are just as dangerous as I said if not more so. They as a group are anti-life.

        The planet was fine without them. Now civilization would fail without them.

  8. Great, informative and IMPORTANT read, as always!

    I have an unrelated (and perhaps silly) question:
    Does the salt in miso soup have the same negative effects as “normal” table salt?

    Besides eating a vegan diet for a bout 2 years, I still suffer from hypertension – medicated, but have reduced the dosage, which is fantastic! I have recently started to drink hibiscus tea, and have seen some effect already.

    I stay away from all processed foods with a few exceptions:
    Tofu. Tempeh. Almond milk. Monkfruit drops. Raw cocoa powder. Miso soup.
    In other words: Lots of hibiscus tea, fresh vegetables, fruits, oat, nuts and seeds.

    Any thoughts on this diet, and why my BP is still high? From 120-130/90 on meds. I want to get off the meds, and appreciate any inputs!

    Thank you,

    Dora

    1. Hypertension is often caused by excess sodium, but we always advise managing this under close supervision of your doctor since your blood pressure could get too high or too low which can cause very serious health problems and even death. That said, I’ve found that eating exclusively unprocessed fruit will usually lower blood pressure. Most fruit has little to no sodium. Miso is very high in sodium and many nut milks have significant sodium as well.

      1. I just checked the label of the almond milk I drink (a LOT of, more than a carton per day), and “sea salt” is listed high! I thought I was incredibly careful, but clearly not. I had no idea almond milk was my main source of sodium!! I’ll make my own from now on. Will be interesting to see how this affects my bp.

        Thank you so much, Ben! I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. I’ll also up my fruit intake!

        THANKS!!!

  9. Very good read from Dr. Greger. And some very interesting and informative comments from John Newell as well.

    As for the comments regarding vaccines …. I totally agree with Pradeep and Maureen Fischer. The makeup of vaccines today are not the same as vaccines prior to the 1960’s. They contain heavy metals like mercury, aluminum, cadmium among others. They also contain glyphosate which is unfortunately most prevalent nowadays; however it’s much more concentrated in a vaccine dose. Vaccines are often fast-tracked without proper safety testing, and there have been countless injuries and lives lost because of this. There is no incentive to make them safer. In 1986, a law was passed whereby consumers could not sue vaccine manufacturers for any toxicity or negligence. There is no accountability. To add icing to the cake, BigPharma companies have the highest rate of profits of any industry.

    Calling people “anti-vaxxers” just because they do not approve of today’s vaccines and want them to be critically safety-tested before distribution is just plain ignorant. If you do the research and listen to any of Robert Kennedy Jrs. interviews about this, you will have a better understanding.

    1. Please be aware that many vaccines also contain brain-damaging amino acids like the glutamic acid found in monosodium glutamate and hydrolyzed protein products. Excitotoxins are what those amino acids are called.

        1. But the glutamic acid added to processed food is manufactured. It’s made in chemical or food processing plants, not in the human body, and it comes with unavoidable by-products of production referred to as impurities. Glutamic acid and D-glutamic acid are just 2 of them.

    2. Kennedy is a well-known anti-vaccine crank who pretends that setting impossible safety standards isn’t the same thing as demanding the banning of vaccines. I think it was Jenny McCarthy who first came up with this tactic.

      After all, nobody objects to strict safety standards do they? So, let’s just pretend that we aren’t campaigning for the banning of vaccines. All we want are safety standards (that are impossible to satisfy). ‘I may be crazy but I’m not stupid’.

      There have been thousands of unnecessary deaths because of antivaxxer campaigns and social media propaganda posts like these.

      if people want credible information about vaccines and vaccine safety, they should go to reputable sites like the CDC etc and not simply believe the claims of opinionated cranks and conspiracy nuts

      https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/immunization-vaccines.html
      https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/default.htm
      https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/why-vaccination-is-safe-and-important/
      https://www.who.int/immunization/quality_safety/en/

      Not to mention critiques by people who prefer to act on what the science shows eg
      https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/quoth-rfk-jr-vaccines-and-glyphosate-are-responsible-for-the-obesity-epidemic/

  10. Unrelated to above, I heard an carnivore diet advocate (Dr. Paul Saladino) who noted that Hong Kong has the highest longevity and highest meat consumption in the world, which I found shocking. Wondering if Dr. Greger could address this seeming paradox in a podcast.

    1. That’s probably true about HK and current meat eating levels. It’s a bit like saying the Okinawans (now) eat lots of pork and other fatty foods. It’s all perfectly true but it’s also misleading.

      HK has become very wealthy with China’s economic boom of recent decades and more people are eating rich people’s diets. HKers also benefit from extensive government health, housing and other social welfare services inherited from the time of British administration.

      However, it takes perhaps 50 years of eating the Standard American Diet before the adverse health effects start showing up with a vengeance. What were older people in HK (or Okinawa) eating for most of their lives? It probably wasn’t a meat heavy diet. There’s a lengthy lag effect with diets and the true effects of HK’s shift to a meat heavy diet probably won’t be seen for decades to come.

      What happens in places where heavy meat consumption is of long-standing though? This study below tells us

      ‘Background: High red meat consumption is associated with a shorter survival and higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and all-cause mortality. Fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption is associated with a longer survival and lower mortality risk. Whether high FV consumption can counterbalance the negative impact of high red meat consumption is unknown………………………………
      Conclusion: High intakes of red meat were associated with a higher risk of all-cause and CVD mortality. The increased risks were consistently observed in participants with low, medium, and high FV consumption.’
      https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/104/4/1137/4557128

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