Harvard School of Public Health researchers have found red meat consumption is associated with an increase in the risk of death. It also raises the risk of death from heart disease and from cancer.
“Our study adds more evidence to the health risks of eating high amounts of red meat, which has been associated with type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers in other studies,” explained lead author An Pan, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard. (Source: Harvard Gazette)
The researchers studied data from 37,698 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study for up to 22 years and 83,644 women in the Nurses’ Health Study for up to 28 years. In the two studies, 23,926 deaths were documented with 5,910 from cardiovascular disease and 9,464 from cancer. A single daily serving of red meat was associated with a 13 percent increase in the risk of death. A single daily serving of processed meat such as one hot dog or two slices of bacon was associated with a 20 percent increase in the risk of death. These red meat portions are small – two slices of bacon a day for a 20 percent increase in dying?
“This study provides clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death,” said senior author Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard. (Source: Harvard Gazette)
Replacing red meat with other protein sources lowered the risk of mortality. If the people in the study ate less than 0.5 servings per day of red meat, an estimated 9.3 percent of the deaths in men and 7.6 percent of the deaths in women could have been prevented.
“Eating a serving of nuts instead of beef or pork was associated with a 19% lower risk of dying during the study. The team said choosing poultry or whole grains as a substitute was linked with a 14% reduction in mortality risk; low-fat dairy or legumes, 10%; and fish, 7%.” (Source: LA Times)
Regular red meat eaters will not like this information, but if the research is sound it could save
their lives. Today there are many affordable alternatives to red meat which are healthier for people and the planet. Livestock agriculture generates about 51 percent of climate change emissions.
Image Credit: Michael C. Berch
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