Red meat consumption linked to increased risk of premature death

A study linking red meat to a higher risk of early death generated significant coverage online and in print, and was also featured on ABC World News, which reported that a “major medical study from the Harvard School of Public Health” is “raising a giant red flag about eating red meat.”

The Los Angeles Times reports, “Eating red meat – any amount and any type – appears to significantly increase the risk of premature death, according to” the study.

USA Today reports that investigators “analyzed the diet, health and death data on 37,698 men and 83,644 women. Participants completed questionnaires about their diets every four years.” Over a “follow-up period of more than two decades, almost 24,000 of the participants died, including 5,910 from heart disease and 9,464 from cancer.”

Bloomberg News reports, “The researchers found that those who increased consumption of unprocessed red meat by one serving each day had an 18 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease and a 10 percent greater risk of dying from cancer, while those who ate one more daily serving of processed red meat had a 21 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease and a 16 percent increased risk of dying from cancer.”

The New York Times reports, “The increased risks linked to processed meat, like bacon, were even greater: 20 percent over all, 21 percent for cardiovascular disease and 16 percent for cancer.”

CNN /Health.com reports, “Based on these findings, the researchers estimate that substituting one daily serving of red meat with fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, whole grains, or low-fat dairy products would reduce the risk of dying in this stage of life by 7% to 19%.”

HealthDay reports, “If people ate less than half a serving of red meat a day, deaths during the 28 years of follow-up could have been reduced by 9.3 percent for men and 7.6 percent for women, the researchers noted.”

WebMD reports, “The study echoes previous research which has also linked diets high in red meat to a shorter life span.”

About three years ago, “a study by the National Cancer Institute found that people who ate the equivalent of a quarter-pound burger or small steak each day had about a 30% greater risk of dying over 10 years than people who only ate red meat occasionally.”

MedPage Today reports, “In an accompanying commentary Dean Ornish, MD, of the University of California San Francisco,” wrote that “what we include in our diet is as important as what we exclude, so substituting healthier foods for red meat provides a double benefit to our health.”

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