Red meat increases mortality

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Red meat increases the risk of death

Red meat consumption has been linked to significant health risks, such as pancreatic cancer, bladder cancer or diabetes, in numerous previous studies. Now, US researchers have examined the effects of red meat consumption on general mortality for the first time.

The researchers around Dr. Pan and Frank Hu from the Department of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health report in the online edition of the journal "Archives of International Medicine" that their study comes to the clear results that mortality from daily consumption of red Meat is significantly increased. Therefore, substitution of the red meat with other healthier protein sources is recommended.

Cardiovascular diseases and cancer caused by red meat In general, all types of meat are designated as red meat which, when raw, have a distinct red color. They are, for example, beef, pork, goat or lamb. Consumption is relatively widespread in the modern industrialized nations, although it has already been known from previous studies that this can be associated with a not inconsiderable health risk. Because with regular consumption, the risk of cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers is demonstrably significantly increased. As part of their study, the US scientists have now evaluated the data of 37 698 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2008) and 83 644 women from the Nurses Health Study (1980-2008). All study participants considered were free of cardiovascular diseases and cancer at the beginning of the studies. Every four years, questionnaires were also used to record the subjects' diet.

Mortality from daily consumption of red meat increased significantly 23,926 study participants died in the study period, 5,910 of them due to cardiovascular diseases and 9,464 from cancer, report Frank Hu and colleagues. According to the scientists, mortality was also clearly related to the consumption of red meat. The US researchers explained that by substituting one serving of red meat per day, the mortality rate for daily consumption of unprocessed red meat increased by as much as 20 percent for daily consumption of processed products such as salami, ham or other sausages other foods (including fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains) would reduce mortality by seven to nineteen percent, according to Frank Hu and colleagues. Nuts as a substitute for a portion of red meat have the most significant effect here with a 19 percent reduction in mortality, but whole grains and poultry also result in a 14 percent reduction in mortality, the US researchers explained. With fish as a substitute, the mortality rate is still seven percent lower than with the daily consumption of red meat, Hu and colleagues write.

Reducing Red Meat Consumption Based on deaths over the course of the present studies, US researchers said that 9.3 percent of men and 7.6 percent of deaths could have been prevented if all participants stopped eating red meat would have reduced less than 0.5 servings (approximately 42 grams) a day. According to Hu and colleagues, this illustrates the far-reaching effects that can be achieved with small changes in diet. According to the US scientists, there are also huge savings for the entire healthcare system. Because cancer and cardiovascular diseases are an essential cost factor in the healthcare system. While not all of these diseases can be attributed to the consumption of red meat, experts believe that the proportion should not be negligible, since red meat is also consistently popular in Germany. According to the German Butchers' Association, every German ate almost 40 kilograms of pork and more than eight kilos of beef and veal in 2011. A reduction in meat consumption therefore seems urgent. If the US researchers' target of less than 42 grams per day is to be observed, the per capita consumption of red meat in Germany should not exceed the limit of 15 kilograms. (fp)

Also read:
Meat favors pancreatic cancer
Red meat increases the risk of diabetes
October 1st is World Vegetarian Day
Do vegetarians live longer?
Vegans live healthy with risks

Image: Dieter Schütz /

Author and source information

Video: Dr. Terry Simpson on how Red Meat Does Not Increase Mortality


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