High red meat intake linked to high death risk
A new study published in BMJ.com suggests that eating too much red meat may increase risk of premature death. And the study also indicates that replace red meat with healthier animal or plant-based foods may lower the risk.
Healthier alternative protein sources that may be used to replace red meat include eggs, fish, whole grains and vegetables.
Previous studies have associated eating red meat such as pork, beef and lamb with elevated risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and premature death.
The study was based on data from two major studies, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professional Follow-up Study. At baseline, study participants were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Participants were followed up for eight years.
The study found that over the 8-year follow-up, those who increased total red meat consumption by 3.5 servings a week or higher were 10% more likely to die a premature death in the next eight years.
There is some difference between processed red meat which may contain preservatives and process-derived toxic chemicals and unprocessed red meat. Three and half servings per week of processed red meat was linked to 13% increased risk of death, compared to 9% for the same amount of unprocessed red meat.
When one serving of red meat was replaced with one serving of fish, the risk was reduced by 17%.
This is an observation study and it cannot prove the association is a cause-effect association. More studies are needed to confirm that eating red meat increases risk of premature death.