Study: Regular consumption of red meat linked to premature death

Posted Mar 13, 2012 by Katerina Nikolas
A new study links eating red meat with chronic disease, cancer and early death. It found that reducing meat consumption to just 1.5 ounces per day could prevent one in ten early deaths in men.
File photo: Ground beef
File photo: Ground beef
VirtualErn (CC BY-ND 2.0)
The study, 'Red Meat Consumption and Mortality' was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on March 12, and is the work of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The Telegraph reported researchers followed 100,000 people for around 28 years.
The study "found that for every serving of red meat - equivalent to 3 ounces (85 grams) - eaten each day there was an 18 per cent increased risk of dying from heart disease and a 10 per cent increased risk of dying from cancer. For each serving of processed meat, equivalent to two slices of bacon or one hot dog, the risk of dying from heart disease rose by a 21 per cent and from cancer by 16 per cent."
Research fellow An Pan is quoted by Science Daily stating "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."
Researcher Frank Hu, who also worked on the study, said "This study provides clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death. On the other hand, choosing more healthful sources of protein in place of red meat can confer significant health benefits by reducing chronic disease morbidity and mortality."
Doctor Hu advises that red meat is only consumed occasionally rather than as a regular part of the diet, advising that meat consumption should be reduced to just 1.5 ounces (42 grams) daily.
Dr Rachel Thompson, Deputy Head of Science at the World Cancer Research Fund, said the "study strengthens the body of evidence which shows a link between red meat and chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. The research itself seems solid and is based on two large scale cohort studies monitored over a long period of time."
However Bloomberg reported the study was deemed unreliable by the American Meat Institute Foundation which said the Harvard researchers should not "use their conclusions to accurately recommend people change their dietary habits" because "all of these studies struggle disentangle other lifestyle and dietary habits from meat and processed meat."