Pork: Did Leviticus 11:7 Have It Right?

If we were to rank popular meats by their healthfulness, the order would be (1) fish and shellfish, (2) ruminants (beef, lamb, goat), and (3) birds (duck, chicken, turkey). In last place would be pork.

Given the iconic place of bacon in the Paleo movement, it’s worth exploring the evidence against pork.  George Henderson has given us a great place to start:  “Nanji and Bridges identified possible problems with pork plus moderate alcohol in 1985 and other researchers have confirmed the pattern since.”

Pork Consumption and Liver Cirrhosis

Pork consumption has a strong epidemiological association with cirrhosis of the liver. Startlingly, pork may be even more strongly associated with alcoholic cirrhosis than alcohol itself!

The evidence was summarized by Francis Bridges in a recent (2009) paper [1], building on earlier work by Nanji and French [2]. A relation between pork consumption and cirrhosis of the liver is apparent across countries and has been consistently maintained for at least 40 years.

Here is the correlation between pork consumption and mortality from liver cirrhosis in 2003 [1]:

The correlation coefficient of 0.83 is extremely high – rarely seen in epidemiology. Correlation coefficients range from -1.0 to 1.0, and a coefficient of 1.0 would indicate that cirrhosis mortality was strictly proportional to pork consumption. The very low p-value confirms the statistical association.

Here is the relation between alcohol consumption and mortality from liver cirrhosis:

The correlation coefficient is lower than for pork consumption.

In epidemiological studies, beef, lamb, and pork are often grouped together as “red meat.” However, this may conceal differences between pork and the ruminant meats. Bridges found that beef actually appeared protective against cirrhosis:

In the present study using 2003 data, a significant negative association between dietary beef and rates of cirrhosis mortality was found…. [D]ietary beef may be a protective factor regarding the pathogenesis of alcoholic cirrhosis. [1]

This would be consistent with considerable evidence, discussed in our book (pp 57-58), showing that saturated fat is protective against liver disease, while polyunsaturated fat causes it. Epidemiological data confirms that saturated fat is protective; here is Bridges again [1]:

[A]nalysis of data from 17 countries indicated that diets high in cholesterol and saturated fat protected (i.e., inversely correlated) against alcoholic cirrhosis while polyunsaturated fats promoted (positively correlated) cirrhosis [8].

Beef is high in saturated fat, low in polyunsaturated fat. Pork is relatively high in polyunsaturated fat.

If the fat composition is playing a role, perhaps it is not that surprising that pork is more strongly related to cirrhosis than alcohol.

Either fructose or alcohol can react with polyunsaturated fat to produce liver disease. Sugar consumption, for example in soft drinks, may be just as likely to combine with pork to cause a cirrhotic liver as alcohol. But no other common dietary component can substitute for the role of polyunsaturated fat in causing liver disease.

Here Nanji and French summarize the correlation of pork with liver disease even in the absence of alcohol:

In countries with low alcohol consumption, no correlation was obtained between alcohol consumption and cirrhosis. However, a significant correlation was obtained between cirrhosis and pork. A similar relationship was seen in the ten Canadian provinces, where there was no correlation between cirrhosis mortality and alcohol consumption, but a significant correlation was obtained with pork. [2]

But fat composition is hardly likely to be the sole issue with pork. Most polyunsaturated fats in modern diets are derived from vegetable oils, not pork. It seems that there must be something else in pork besides polyunsaturated fat that is causing liver disease.

Pork and Liver Cancer

We would expect that if pork can cause liver cirrhosis it will also promote liver cancer, since injured and inflamed tissues are more likely to become cancerous.

Indeed, there is an association between pork consumption and the primary liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma. Nanji and French [3] write:

The authors investigated the possibility that dietary fat, meat, beef, and pork consumption might be factors that would, in addition to alcohol, correlate with mortality from hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in different countries….

The correlation between HCC and alcohol was 0.40 (p < 0.05); that with pork consumption was also 0.40 (p < 0.05). There was no correlation with total fat meat, beef, and cigarette and tobacco consumption.

Here is the raw data by country:

Another way of looking at the data is based on countries with low and high incidence of HCC. Countries with high incidence of HCC eat more pork and drink more alcohol, but actually eat less animal fat:

Pork and Multiple Sclerosis

Nanji and Norad [4] looked for other diseases that correlate with pork consumption, and hit upon multiple sclerosis. The connection is remarkable:

A significant correlation was obtained between prevalence of multiple sclerosis and … pork consumption (r = 0.87, p less than 0.001). There was no significant correlation with beef consumption. [4]

As noted earlier, a correlation coefficient of 0.87 is extremely high, and a p-value below 0.001 also shows a very strong relationship. MS is much more likely to befall pork eaters. Such a strong correlation makes it look like pork, or something found in pork, is the cause of MS.

Nanji and Norad further note that beef, the “other red meat,” is not associated with MS:

The correlation between pork consumption and MS prevalence was highly significant. Also, of major significance was the absence of a significant correlation between MS prevalence and beef consumption. This is consistent with the observations that MS is rare in countries where pork is forbidden by religious customs (e.g. Middle East) and has a low prevalence in countries where beef consumption far exceeds pork consumption (e.g. Brazil, Australia). [4]

The correlation between pork and MS may be seen here:

Lauer [5] verified the pork-MS link, but found it to be characteristic of processed pork:

When … quantitative data are taken into account, and a combined factor “smoked meat” or “smoked pork” is formed, the association is very high throughout. This factor is also compatible with the high risk of multiple sclerosis in Scotland and particularly in the Orkney and Shetland Islands and with the only transitorily high incidence in the Faroe Islands [6], whereas coffee can hardly explain both epidemiological features.

Arguments for the biological plausibility of some agents occurring in smoked and cured meat (in particular nitrophenol haptens and their protein conjugates) have been put forward [7]. There appears at present to be no plausibility for the factor “margarine”, which was also not compatible with the temporal pattern of multiple sclerosis in the Faroe Islands. [6]


There are remarkably strong correlations between pork consumption and liver disease, liver cancer, and multiple sclerosis.

What can be behind those relationships? The relatively high omega-6 fat content of pork may be a contributing factor, but it can’t be the whole story. It seems there is something else in pork that makes pork consumption risky.

What is it about pork that is so dangerous, and what does it mean for our dietary advice? That will be the topic of my next post.

Related Posts

Posts in this series:


[1] Bridges FS. Relationship between dietary beef, fat, and pork and alcoholic cirrhosis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2009 Sep;6(9):2417-25. http://pmid.us/19826553.

[2] Nanji AA, French SW. Relationship between pork consumption and cirrhosis.  Lancet. 1985 Mar 23;1(8430):681-3. http://pmid.us/2858627.

[3] Nanji AA, French SW. Hepatocellular carcinoma. Relationship to wine and pork consumption. Cancer. 1985 Dec 1;56(11):2711-2. http://pmid.us/2996744.

[4] Nanji AA, Narod S. Multiple sclerosis, latitude and dietary fat: is pork the missing link?  Med Hypotheses. 1986 Jul;20(3):279-82. http://pmid.us/3638477.

[5] Lauer K. The food pattern in geographical relation to the risk of multiple sclerosis in the Mediterranean and Near East region. J Epidemiol Community Health. 1991 Sep;45(3):251-2. http://pmid.us/1757770.

[6] Lauer K. Dietary changes in relation to multiple sclerosis in the Faroe Islands: an evaluation of literary sources. Neuroepidemiology. 1989;8(4):200-6. http://pmid.us/2755551.

[7] Lauer K. Environmental nitrophenols and autoimmunity. Mol Immunol. 1990 Jul;27(7):697-8. http://pmid.us/2395440.

[8] Nanji AA, French SW. Dietary factors and alcoholic cirrhosis. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1986 Jun;10(3):271-3. http://pmid.us/3526949.

Leave a comment ?


  1. I’m like a few others- wondering how this works in regard to crackling/rind, which is uncured bacon, and lard…

    When I prepare crackling for example (by periodically salting and drying in the fridge over a few days), will this provoke an inflammatory response?

  2. Surely we have learned the dangers of drawing conclusions from epidemiological data by now?

    What’s next, the Okinawan Paradox!

    I’ve been to Austria and Germany a fair bit, and if you’re out and about you’ll see the vast majority of the local food is cured pork (from industrially raised animals) with white bread. I’m pretty sure everyone would agree this is not a basis for a healthy diet.

    I’d be willing to bet that if you were to do a clinical study on the effects of eating unprocessed, grain free pastured pork and processed meats made from intensively raised pork, you’d see a huge difference.

    That said, I think the PHD recommendation of focusing on Fish/Shellfish and Ruminant meat ahead of Pork is probably wise.

    Bacon is great, I love it, and would never cut it out, but equally, I don’t think having it (or any one food) everyday is a wise idea.

    • @Simon, evidence is evidence, even if it is weak.

      Surely it is possible to draw the conclusion that there is a higher chance that pork is bad, than pork is good, if these epidemiological studies were the only information we had.

      As Seth Roberts probably would put it, lets not be evidence snobs 🙂

      Btw, I’m Danish, and I don’t agree when you say that: ‘I’m pretty sure everyone would agree this is not a basis for a healthy diet’. Sure most Danes probably don’t think bacon is healthy, but I think that’s mostly because of the fat. Personally I don’t recall any information from my upbringing which suggests that ham is less healthy than beef. This study suggests otherwise.

  3. Hi Paul.

    I think I have an explanation for these findings, which pretty much exonerates pork.

    However, it will probably need a full post.

    If you don’t mind, I’ll write such post in the interest of debate – not criticizing your conclusions, but aiming to make an interesting point.

    Then we can have some additional discussion based on that.

    The underlying reason is not very intuitive; it builds on somewhat complex statistical arguments.


  4. Ned! Ned! Ned! Everybody join now! … Ned! Ned! Ned… We want pork! We want pork! We want Park! Ned! Ned! Ned!…

    Seriously, in case it wasn’t obvious, I sure hope Ned’s right. But like another commenter said, it’s never wise to bet against PJ.

  5. Hi Ned,

    Go for it!

    Hi D,

    It’s not clear to me that Ned and I disagree. We shall see.

  6. I’ll cast my wild guess like others: something to do with hog parasites?

  7. If this isn’t a case of confusing correlation with causation, I would suggest one possible contribution to the negative health effects of eating pig is that pork products are often salted and sodium chloride contributes to the peroxidation of PUFA’s.


  8. Question: when this testing and correlating were done, did they use COMMERCIAL pork or PASTURED pork? It makes a difference.

    As for me, I just laid in a case of ground wild boar meat, and I’m not worried about getting MS, or trichinosis, or anything else–just a crabby husband who had his bacon taken away (about two decades ago–congenital heart issues) and has homemade sausage (low-sodium) made from this meat instead.

    It truly wouldn’t surprise me if we could one day lay the cause of MS at the feet of Smithfield (a large pork producer in VA)–all those holiday hams and Sunday pork chops we’ve all been wolfing down for generations coming back to haunt us!

  9. Are there any fast food options out there that work with PHD?

    Could you do a burrito bowl at Chipotle for instance? I saw their fajita veggies are cooked in a small amount of soybean oil, so I’m guessing that’s a no-no but could you do rice, steak, salsa, guac, cheese, lettuce and sour cream in a burrito bowl there? My poor wife got food poisoning this week getting salads in NYC for lunch and we’re trying to find options in the city since we can’t cook at work.

  10. They will have to prise the pork belly strips from my cold, dead fingers!

  11. I went from eating a little red meat and mostly eggs to alot of pork and got a severe gout attack.Followers of RBTI know that pork is a no-no food but also do not know why its to be avoided.Reams stated that it drops energy.Energy,if you read between the lines is a change in PH.So maybe pork drops the PH of the body.

    I feel amazing now after a week of some very drastic attempts to raise my body PH.I did two days of talking a teaspoon of baking soda every 2 hours.Sent my blood pressure up from 120/80 to 150/100 but I was alright with it since I lived for yrs with 180/120.My PH for past two days for both urine and saliva has been around 6.5 which is perfect.

    What I have started doing past two days is overdosing calcium,or rather coral calcium only since its a calcium that will raise PH.Something strange is happening,I have been having bad diarrhea and it seems I am pooping out the calcium.Its just two days but this kinda reveals to me that my body will just excrete the excess calcium and likes being at 6.5(the RBTI goal) in PH.Again its just two days so my body may start absorbing like crazy and disrupting my PH.

    This PH could be the reason why some people can’t lose weight and could also be the reason why the Optimal dieters are getting cancer,or some of them.I am not eating any less calorie wise and yet my clothes get looser when I fix my PH.Also my energy goes thru the roof.I deliver packages for a living(Fedex) and find that each time I raise my PH from 5.5 to 6.5 I start running stairs to deliver packages.Just yesterday I had a 10fl stop and the thought crossed my mind but then the elevator opened.

    As for bringing god into this topic,could it be that pigs are intelligent?Many reason I guess to avoid pork.

  12. Thank you for a very interesting and thought-provoking blog posting. It definitely has me rethinking using bacon grease to cook my eggs every morning. Aside from the difference in smoke point, any recommendation about which would be better to use instead: butter or tallow? Thank you for any insight! Clarissa

  13. Hi Joe,

    Compromises may be necessary when traveling. I don’t eat out much so don’t have suggestions, but I bet if you asked this on PaleoHacks you’d get a lot of suggestions, they have a lot of New Yorkers.

    Hi Nigel,

    Pork belly strips and cold dead fingers – or beef liver and warm live fingers. That is the question. Or is it?

    Hi Clarissa,

    Butter and tallow are both great, those are our primary oils along with coconut oil. Butter doesn’t stand up to high temperatures or last in the refrigerator, so if you plan to keep leftovers you either need to clarify it first or use tallow or coconut oil.

    • The butter I make from raw cream is pretty gamey/butyric tasting to start, and gets more powerful fairly quickly. I bought a little stoneware gizmo called a ‘butter bell’ which is designed to water-seal it from the air and keep it fresh longer, even unrefrigerated. Haven’t used it yet though so can’t say if it works.

  14. The rice at Chipotle is swimming in soybean oil. Vegetable oils are ubiquitous when eating out, and difficult to avoid.

  15. my best guess as to why pork seems to be harmful is parasites? Even though not all pork will have Trichinosis, perhaps there are other tiny parasites present in pork but not other meats, and that causes harm over the long term?
    In regards to that study mentioned about the effect of marinated vs unmarinated pork on blood…is it possible marinading in acidic ingredients kills these pasrasites?

    Just my thoughts, I look forward to your follow up post, Paul

  16. Do I have to direct it to Paul?Paul,could it be body PH and how pork is known to quickly drop energy?Its like the lowish carb crowd just completely avoids PH when its of utmost importance in sea creatures.

  17. The Jaminet’s do seem to enjoy some pork occasionally, so must not be too deadly under the right circumstances …


    Pacific Sweet&Sour Pork Bellies

    We like pork belly a lot: it is a tasty, fatty cut of pork, and we like the natural flavor better than processed bacon.

    … will be interesting to see the mystery unfold …

  18. Hi Wolfstriked,

    I’m not aware that pork drops energy or pH. Your experiences are very interesting, but it’s not what I think is responsible for the data here.

  19. Glancing at a subset of the (HCC) raw data table, the pattern seems ‘odd’ to me.

    USA/Canada/UK/NZ. I expect those to have broadly similar cultural settings. (Pity no Oz).

    USA/Canada/UK have similar consumption levels, but UK has twice the HCC level.
    NZ has half the consumption level, and similar levels of HCC to UK.

    Alcohol doesn’t strike me as an explanation, as of those UK is lowest.

    So it seems something is missing.

    Does the paper have Cirrhosis values for UK? As it is not plotted in the graphs.

  20. Thanks Paul. I have had many report experimenting with removing pork from their diets with good results, including some type 2’s. I have avoided pork for about 6 months and have seen some improvements in a couple of areas that I attribute mostly to avoiding pork. Nice to see a well-thought out scientific analysis on it. I’ll pass it around.

  21. Paul,
    Great post. Looking forward to the next in the series.
    This may be somewhat related: have you looked into the effects of sialic acid (Neu5Gc) from consuming meat such as pork and beef. Supposedly beef has more than pork so maybe it’s not the contributing factor in this case, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it anyways.

  22. Kool,thanks Paul.I do follow your diet and find its best.Just a cup of rice added to each meal and not only am I satisfied culinary I also “feel” best. Just wonder though that the icing on the cake for your diet is to also check your PH since it can drop or rise and cause issues either way.That reason is your local water hardness level.I have diabetes insipidus and so my water intake is around 2 to 3 gallons of water per day.I live in NYC and so I consume this amount daily.Even bottled water is bad since its just filtered NYC water.You need mineral water but thats expensive.

    Probably why I get such a drastic change when I start adding back in alkalizing substances is that I drink so much acidic water daily.Its not like everyone will have urine at 5 PH but if you do then start alkalizing and fast.You too will notice a drastic effect I believe.I am a consumer of alcohol and drink excessively.I drank around 14 beers last night and right now sitting here typing this I can tell you I have no hangover.I look in the mirror and I do not have the hideous transformation I usually get from drinking and rather look exactly like I did before I drank.

    Back to pork,I always wonder why porcine meds are better for us.Its like a catch22 since it seems many get negative effects from pork but yet it is closely related to our own makeup for some reason we have no idea about yet.It also makes me wonder why we don’t test our theories on pigs instead of rats.Most likely due to it being inhumane.

  23. George Henderson

    Great stuff Paul, if we were playing rugby I’d pass you the ball every time.

    “Perhaps ruminants are the best suited to produce tolerable fat profiles in spite of crappy feed.” Kirril

    This makes sense to me; ruminants have more microbiotia to help them, this will tend to even things out.

    Connie, moderation is an abstract concept.

    There was a related study of alcoholic patients in a German hospital which also shows high correlation between pork and cirrhosis.

    Wheat and vitamin D are two confounders for MS.

    I’ve seen one study of pork fat (meat not lard) showing very high AA and almost no DHA. Imagine Okinawan pigs are better fed. Do coconuts grow there?

    AA deficiency can damage liver (see Dietary Fats and Liver Disease, Esteban Mezey), but this doesn’t mean supplementing AA is always good!

    Bear in mind pork is probably the most processed meat. So there could be synergy with gluten or galactose or nitrite or another contaminant.

    In Nanji’s labrats, lard was not as good as beef fat, but not nearly as bad a corn oil.
    Has vege oil overtaken pork as a liver disease factor since the last study?

  24. George Henderson

    P.S., for anyone interested in what Leviticus really meant, read Maimonides “A Guide for the Perplexed”. This celebrated 11th century North African rabbi analyses OT attitudes to food in some detail, and his explanations are pretty convincing today.
    A feast of fat things full of marrow (Isiah), anyone?
    Only the cows in Joseph’s dream were lean, and that didn’t bode well for Egypt.

  25. George Henderson

    Here is the abstract of the microcosm study that corroborates the original epidemiology:

    Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1998 Nov;22(8):1803-5.
    Effect of the type of beverage and meat consumed by alcoholics with alcoholic liver disease.
    Bode C, Bode JC, Erhardt JG, French BA, French SW.

    Institut für Biologische Chemie and Ernährungswissenschaft, F.B., Ernährungs Physiologie, Universität Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.

    We analyzed meat products and alcoholic beverage preference in patients with the three stages of alcoholic liver disease (ALD) compared with controls using diet history data. Daily consumption of total alcohol, types of alcoholic beverages, and types of meat and meat products in grams was obtained by dietary history taken from patients with biopsy proven stage of ALD. A strong association was found between the ALD subjects and total alcohol and beer consumption. There was a significant increase in the consumption of total pig products, pork, and offal in the ALD groups compared with controls. There was a significant positive correlation between beer consumption and pork in alcoholic hepatitis, total pork products in alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis and offal in alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis. There was no correlation with the fatty liver stage of ALD. The strongest correlation was between beer and total pig products in the alcoholic hepatitis group. Wine consumption was negatively correlated with the consumption of pig products and beer in the alcoholic cirrhosis group. In conclusion, the association of total pig product consumption with cirrhosis mortality in various countries was validated by personal diet history data obtained from ALD patients in a tested clinical microcosm. The results suggest that this association may be modified by the type of alcoholic beverage that is preferentially consumed.

    And here is why Amin A. Nanji, with Bridges and S. W. French, is at the top of my scientist pops;
    They had a hunch that something was contributing to cirrhosis, they poured through the data to narrow it down, they ran a closer analysis of the meat consumption data.
    Then French asked his German colleagues to check to see if it was true for actual patients in a hospital setting.
    Then Nanji tested the deduction, which might have been an obvious one to a biochemist, that polyunsaturated fatty acids were the cause.
    Not just testing lard, but fish oil, coconut oil, corn oil, and tallow, with alcohol and other toxins, to get a consistent set of confirmatory animal experiments, that helped to explain not only why pork might might contribute to cirrhosis, but also why beef was protective.
    This is now a flourishing field of research
    This shows milk fat is antioxidant while chicken and corn fat are pro-oxidant

    The only thing still lacking so far is a clinical trial of a high-SFA, PUFA restricted diet in human patients with liver fibrosis.

  26. George Henderson

    And this one turns the lipid hypothesis on its head; corn oil and possibly lard, with higher PUFA, increase aortic oxidative stress; not SFAs or cholesterol.
    Although there is dispute about whether ORAC is meaningful, because of ROS signalling, I think it is still likely that TBARS and lipid peroxidation are valid in vivo markers of damage.

    J Am Coll Nutr. 1997 Feb;16(1):32-8.
    Aortic antioxidant defense and lipid peroxidation in rabbits fed diets supplemented with different animal and plant fats.
    Toborek M, Feldman DL, Hennig B.

    Department of Surgery, University of Kentucky Medical Center, Lexington 40536, USA.
    To test the hypothesis that dietary fats, depending on the fat source, may modulate aortic lipid peroxidation and antioxidant protection.

    Rabbits were fed a low fat (LF, 2 g/100 g corn oil) diet or LF enriched with 16 g/100 g (w/w) of corn oil (CO), corn oil plus cholesterol (23.5 mg/100 g diet, CO + C), bovine milk fat (MF), chicken fat (CF), beef tallow (BT) or lard (L). After a 30-day feeding period, aortic lipid peroxidation, as well as antioxidant enzymes and vitamin E were measured.

    In rabbits fed CO or L, aortic TBARS (a marker of lipid peroxidation) and total glutathione concentrations were greater but vitamin E levels were lower compared with the LF treatment. Moreover, in rabbits fed CO, elevated activities of glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase but lowered activity of superoxide dismutase were observed. In rabbits fed the remaining high fat diets, including the CO + C diet, aortic lipid peroxidation and antioxidant activities/levels did not differ from those fed LF. Feeding rabbits high-fat diets for 30 days did not induce aortic lipid deposition.

    The present results indicate CO, and possibly L, as the fat sources which significantly increase aortic oxidative stress. Because long-term disturbances in redox status may be implicated in atherogenesis, excessive dietary intake of CO or L may significantly contribute to the injury of the vessel wall.

  27. Just a crazy hypothesis.I think I found out why I feel best on alot of butter w/eggs and cheese.I take a calcium supplement that gives me 500mg.Thats 5 capsules and expensive to boot.But a meal of 4 tbsps butter,3 eggs and a slice of Swiss cheese nets me 400mg calcium in itself.If I try to eat a portion of meat(beef,pork,chicken) to get 25 to 30gms of protein it nets me only around 25gms calcium.That plus the butter gets me around 50gms calcium and is not enough IMO.

    Just now I came home from work and I tested slightly acidic.I ate a meal of 4tbsps butter,1cup rice,1 slice Swiss and 3 eggs and now a n hour later I am testing alkaline or rather my kidneys are spilling out the excess calciums.

    This is very interesting to me and kinda strange to see.It can explain why a raw food greens diet is not necessary to alkalize the body.All the vegans pushing the diet of green drinks and broccoli raw with avocado etc are kinda overlooking the fact that a dairy based diet is VERY alkalizing to the body.

  28. George Henderson

    On a carb-restricted diet you need extra sodium and it can be preferable to take some of that as bicarbonate rather than salt. Chinese cabbage (Bok Choy, Pak Choy) is a low-carb vege food supposed to supply bioavailable calcium.

  29. George Henderson

    However, have you ever read a textbook on pH regulation? It is actually the weak acids that buffer the H+ and the strong acids. The actual science is far removed from the “alkalising foods” model of pH, which is based on the pH of ash left when food is burned – i.e. on minerals alone; this is not what happens to food in the body; CO2 is not a mineral, ammonia is not a mineral, etc.

  30. Are we really getting our feathers ruffled over less than 1 to barely more than 4 deaths per 100,000? Strong correlation or not, I highly doubt that pork intake plays a role in cirrhosis. If you are all so quick to change your diet after one small blog post without even reading the paper yourself, you likely are damaging yourself more with neuroses than any pork intake.

  31. Hi Sean,

    It’s worth investigating the cause. An extra 3 deaths per 100,000 from a rare cause of mortality like liver cirrhosis may be only the tip of the iceberg, on top of a variety of other negative health effects.

  32. George Henderson

    There are a number of reasons to look into this. Firstly, these papers (there has been more than one) initiated some of the experiments into the evils of PUFA that we take for granted. Secondly, cirrhosis is becoming more common as a cause of death due to the spread of HCV infection. Cirrhosis is also a possible consequence of gluten sensitivity.
    Thirdly, this exercise gives us an insight into the quality of our animal sources; how diet affects their fat composition, how drugs and pathogens may affect the meat, which allows us to make more informed shopping choices. If anything I eat more bacon since assimilating this news, I’ve never liked ham that much.
    My cooking philosophy is that pork should be mainly used as a flavouring in mixed-meat dishes. Mixing meats is how our forefathers ate when they were lucky.

  33. George Henderson

    Try using chopped bacon in a chicken stuffing, for instance.

  34. I would be more impressed if I could see some comparisons of Jewish and Christian populations in say Denmark and Norway. Very assimilated populations and the diet is quite similar in Denmark and Norway except that Norwegians eat fish where Danes eat pork. Would from this expect less… wait there’s only about 7000 Jews in Denmark and 1000-2000 in Norway. That’s useless.

    There’s almost half a million in France and over 100000 in Germany. That would be relevant for comparisons.

    Okay, looked and found something similar: MS rates in Israel by ethnic group. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16606919 The Jewish groups are the highest risk groups…

  35. George Henderson

    In the case of MS there are many confounders; vit D, gluten exposure, also Jews may put more faith in doctors and prescription meds than other cultures, and be more readily diagnosed. There is likely a genetic component to MS also.
    And aren’t you forgetting that the other main culture in Israel is Arab, and they eat even less pork than Jews?
    But with liver cirrhosis, the fact that the association held good across ten provinces of Canada
    seems to rule out cultural influence.
    “A similar relationship was seen in the ten Canadian provinces, where there was no correlation between cirrhosis mortality and alcohol consumption, but a significant correlation was obtained with pork.”

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  42. I was diagnosed with Ms in 1988 and have followed restrictive diets for years off and on. I was following PHD after Christmas and then 🙂 went to Paleo diet. About 6 weeks ago, after 13 years of basically 0 symptoms, my legs went numb. I had been consuming bacon (Applegate), pulled pork, ham, pork chops in the month preceding my exacerbation. I had not consumed pork in years without knowing about the Ms/pork connection. Needless to say, won’t be enjoying bacon anymore. I a not sure if it was the pork alone but I feel certain it was a contributing factor.

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