Is Eating Red Meat Deadly?

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.

ďOur 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 Nursesí 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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Fred Hoekstra
Fred H4 years ago

Thank you Jake, for Sharing this!

Christine Stewart
Christine S4 years ago

Please reduce your consumption of meat for the sake of all the suffering animals- not just the livestock, but think of all the wildlife killed at the request of the livestock industry: wolves, coyotes, mustangs, bison, prairie dogs, and even badgers!

Angie V.
Angie V4 years ago

Wow interesting...

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

People should definitely cut back on their meat consumption. It is a healthier option and for the welfare of the 60 billion animals slaughterd every year. Food for thought....

Jennifer U.
Jennifer A5 years ago

Let's not forget the fact that red meat and animal products have been linked to high blood pressure, cancer, heart attacks and even strokes. It's interesting to note that these diseases are some of the most common causes of mortality. Also many people who have diabetes or cancer were actually symptom free in about 6 -12 months after discontinuing meat consumption.

I really feel that everyone should read "The China Study" and form their own opinion on the animal product issue before continuing to consume meat and other animal products.

Dale Overall

Eating an entire nutmeg will cause death but we often love this spice used in moderate amounts. One lady almost died while eating three pounds per day of raw bok choy (cooking it would have removed the danger). Some foods such as red meat require smaller servings. If one avoids factory farm toxin filled red meat and eats organic red meat from organic farms while limiting the portion size to a deck of cards, there would be few problems. We often eat too much of any given food.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen5 years ago

Thank you for sharing :)

Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago


Nicole Bergeron
Nicole B5 years ago

Treat it as a side dish (meaning eat more vegetables, grains ect then you do meat), when you buy it from the store BREAK IT UP many of those three person steaks can actually feed six people serving size wise, don't eat it everyday (I have 1-2 meatless dinners a week and chicken, fish and pork as well) and get it from either the wild or organic free-range sources that do not feed them GMO food.

Everyone dies, sooner or later, but we can still enjoy things in life.

My mother NEEDS red meat to control her diabetes, it wasn't the cause of it, not too much but two out of three doctors says she needs it, the third doctor just told her to cut back on starches and said nothing about the red meat. I need red meat for Iron in take, as I have a hard time getting Iron out of plant matter. It also gives me protein when I am unable to get plant matter that has enough of it, mainly due to being tight on money and now the only store in my neighborhood that has organic has officially gone out of business). And no, to the soy lovers out there, I don't eat soy or lentils/legumes, except green beans, peas (there are even some peas I cannot have, like black-eyed peas, and chickpeas), alfalfa, cloves and a small handful of peanuts, because I cannot have them I am allergic except for what I have listed. There may be some more that I haven't found yet that I can have, but I haven't found them yet and I can have no beans.

Sue H.
Sue H5 years ago

Oh, Please. If eating red meat were deadly, none of us would be here to read this scare tactic article.