Increased red meat intake – especially the red meat process – is tied to higher risk for death within 8 years, according to results published online today at BMJ . Healthy alternatives, such as fish, whole grains, or vegetables, may be less risk for death.
"This long-term study provides additional evidence that reducing red meat intake while eating other protein foods or more whole grains and vegetables can be reduced to improve human health and environmental sustainability, it is important to adopt Mediterranean style or other diet that implies healthy eating of plants, "said senior author Frank Hu, MD, PhD in a statement. Hu is the Fredrick J. Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Red meat, especially processed meat, contains saturated fat, high levels of sodium, preservatives, and potential carcinogens that may contribute to health problems. Eating red meat is tied to higher risk for serious illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Processed red meats, such as hot dogs and bacon, are associated with a greater number of health problems, as well as higher risk for death
Previously, researchers did not look in relation to changes in the consumption of meat and death or how alternative food choices can affect this risk.
Therefore, Yan Zheng, PhD, from the Department of Cardiology, State Key Laboratory of Genetic Engineering, School of Life Sciences, and Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China, and colleagues studied data from two prospective US cohort studies: the Nurses & Health Study (53,553 women) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (27,91
Researchers examined the data collected between 1986 and 2010. Using validated food questionnaires in the baseline and every 4 years, participants reported how often in the past year they ate common part of each meal. Researchers are categorized into participants in five categories based on changes in consumption of red meat (increased, reduced or moderately neutral).
During the study, 14,019 participants died, mostly from cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. ] Results showed that higher total consumption of meat for 8 years was tied to higher mortality in the following 8 years for women and men compared to the unchanged consumption of red meat ( P After adjusting for age, race, smoking, drinking alcohol, and many other factors, including baseline red meat consumption, researchers discovered that increasing total consumption red meat at 3.5 servings per week for 8 years is associated with 10% higher risk for death compared to reducing consumption of red meat (hazard ratio [HR] 1.10; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.04 – 1.17 ).
When they recognize between processed and non-processed red meat, they see the same trend, with meat-related risk higher than non-processed meat. Moreover, higher consumption of meat meat processed up to 3.5 servings per week is tied to 13% higher risk for death (HR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.04-1.23), whereas the same increase in unprocessed red meat consumption is tied to 9% increased risk for death (HR, 1.09, 95% CI, 1.02 – 1.17).
Results are similar to age, physical activity levels, food quality, smoking, and alcohol consumption. The results are similar to the consumption changes of 4- and 12 years.
The depletion of total red meat consumption in one to 3.5 servings per week is not linked to the risk of death. However, the risk for death reduces the consumption of red meat in favor of more healthy options.
For example, the risk for death decreased by 17% when one serving per day of red meat was replaced with one serving per day of fish (HR, 0.83, 95% CI, 0.76 – 0.91). Other healthy alternatives which reduced the risk for death include peanuts (HR, 0.81, 95% CI, 0.79 – 0.84), whole grains (HR, 0.88, 95% CI, 0.83 – 0.94), chicken (HR, 0.92, 95% CI, 0.86 – 0.99), eggs (HR, 0.92, 95% CI, 0.89 – 0.96), and legumes (HR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.90 – 0.99).
Authors have some limitations. The study has an observational design and can not prove that the consumption of red meat is causing increased risk for death, only Most of the participants are white health professionals with high socioeconomic status; therefore, the results may not be generalized to more diverse groups.
The study was funded by grants from National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Dise ases, and the Boston Nutrition Obesity Research Center.
One or more authors report support and / or awards from one or more of the following: Boston Nutrition Obesity Research, the California Walnut Commission, Metagenics, Standard Process, Diet Quality Photo Navigation,  Shanghai Higher Education Institution, and / or the American Diabetes Association.
BMJ . Published online June 12, 2019. Full text
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