Tuesday, March 24, 2009
First Study to Show Red Meat Linked to Early Death
We've known that there is a link between eating red meat and an increased risk of heart disease and colorectal cancer, but a new large study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that shows the changes of dying prematurely (mortality) was 30% higher in Americans that consumed just 4 ounces of red meat a day.
The study looked at almost 6,000 predominantly white volunteers ages 50-71. They controlled for other variables such as smoking, physical activity, vitamin use, age and they found that those who ate the most red meat and processed meat were more likely to die from any reason than those who consumed less.
Red meat was considered beef, pork, bacon, cold cuts, ham, liver and processed meats such as sausage, hot dogs and lunch meat. Processed meats were rated differently than non processed red meat in the study and high intake of processed meats caused higher deaths from cancer and cardiovascular disease than those who ate less nor no processed meats.
The people who ate white meat and fish were about 8% less likely to die during the study period. Poultry (chicken and turkey) contains more unsaturated fat and fish contains omega-3 fatty acids.
There are various ways red meat can be related to mortality. Cooked meat is the source of several carcinogens and the excess iron in red meat can also create oxidative damage in tissue. Meat is a major source of saturated fat which is related to C-V disease, breast and colorectal cancer. Also since we know grains, fruits and vegetables are linked to low cancer and C-V death rates, people who eat mainly meat probably eat less of those protective, healthy foods.
The take home message here is not new but this elegant study will probably bring out the big guns in the cattle and pig industry and livestock industrial farms. The take home message is eat mainly fruits, vegies, fish and poultry. Limit and reduce the red meat in your diet. Eat vegi burgers rather than hamburgers and try to never eat processed meat.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 7:59 AM