Red meat consumption linked to increased risk of death

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 13th March 2012

A study published by Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals, suggests that eating more red meat appears to be associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality and death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The study, by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston, analysed data from 37,698 men and 83,644 women over 28 years. Researchers documented 23,926 deaths, including 5,910 from cardiovascular disease and 9,464 deaths from cancer.

The researchers found that a higher intake of red meat was associated with a significantly elevated risk of total, cardiovascular and cancer mortality. This association was observed for unprocessed and processed red meat, with a relatively greater risk for processed red meat.

The study also found that substitution of fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products and whole grains for red meat was associated with a significantly lower risk of mortality.

The elevated risk of total mortality in the pooled analysis for a one-serving-per-day increase was 12 per cent for total red meat, 13 per cent for unprocessed red meat and 20 per cent for processed red meat, the results indicated.

In their substitution analyses, the authors estimated that replacing one serving of total red meat with one serving of fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products or whole grains daily was associated with a lower risk of total mortality: 7 per cent for fish, 14 per cent for poultry, 19 per cent for nuts, 10 per cent for legumes, 10 per cent for low-fat dairy products and 14 per cent for whole grains.

“We estimated that 9.3 per cent in men and 7.6 per cent in women of total deaths during follow-up could be prevented if all the participants consumed fewer than 0.5 servings per day of total red meat in these cohorts,” the research paper stated.