Red meat and death risk: Study offers new insights

People who increased their red meat intake over 8 years had a higher death risk in the following 8 years than people whose meat intake stayed the same. Conversely, decreasing meat intake and replacing it with more healthful alternatives reduced death risk.
Eating red meat can raise the risk of premature death.

These are the main takeaways of new research that investigators have just published in the journal The BMJ . Yan Zheng, a professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, China, is the first author of the paper.


Frank Hu, Fredrick J. Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, is the senior author of the study.

Prof. Zheng and colleagues used data that was available from the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

In total, the researchers examined 53,553 women and 27,916 men who had no cardiovascular disease or cancer at the start of the study.

The team examined whether changes in red meat intake in 1986–1994 correlated with mortality risk in the subsequent 8 years, covering 1994–2002.

They also looked at whether changes in red meat intake between 1994–2002 predicted mortality risk between 2002–2010.

'Adopt a Mediterranean-style diet'

Prof. Zheng and team found that people who increased their total amount of daily processed meat intake by half a serving or more were 13% more likely to die from any cause.

Increasing unprocessed meat by the same amount daily led to a 9% rise in all-cause mortality risk.

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