Nav: Home

Increasing red meat intake linked with heightened risk of death

June 12, 2019

Increasing red meat intake, particularly processed red meat, is associated with a heightened risk of death, suggests a large US study published in The BMJ today.

However, reducing red meat intake while increasing healthy protein sources, such as eggs and fish, whole grains and vegetables over time may lower the risk, the researchers say.

High intake of red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb, has been previously linked with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancers, and premature death. But little is known about how changes in red meat intake may influence risk of death.

So to explore this further, a team of researchers based in the US and China looked at the link between changes in red meat consumption over an eight year period with mortality during the next eight years, starting from 1986 to the end of follow-up in 2010.

They used data for 53,553 US registered female nurses, aged 30 to 55, from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and 27,916 US male health professionals, aged 40 to 75, from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS), who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at the start of the study.

Every four years the participants completed a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) where they were asked how often, on average, they ate each food of a standard portion size in the past year, ranging from "never or less than once per month" to "6 or more times a day". They were then divided into five categories based on their changes in red meat intake.

During the study period, the total number of deaths from any cause (known as "all cause mortality") reached 14,019 (8,426 women and 5,593 men). The leading causes were cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and neurodegenerative disease.

After adjusting for age and other potentially influential factors, increasing total red meat intake (both processed and unprocessed) by 3.5 servings a week or more over an eight year period was associated with a 10% higher risk of death in the next eight years.

Similarly, increasing processed red meat intake, such as bacon, hot dogs, sausages and salami, by 3.5 servings a week or more was associated with a 13% higher risk of death, whereas increasing intake of unprocessed red meat was associated with a 9% higher risk.

These associations were largely consistent across different age groups, levels of physical activity, dietary quality, smoking and alcohol consumption habits.

Overall, reducing red meat intake while eating more whole grains, vegetables, or other protein foods such as poultry without skin, eggs and fish, was associated with a lower risk of death among both men and women.

For example, swapping out one serving per day of red meat for one serving of fish per day over eight years was linked to a 17% lower risk of death in the subsequent eight years.

Similar findings were seen in the shorter-term (four years) and longer-term (12 years) for the link between changes in red meat intake and mortality, and for replacing red meat with healthier food alternatives.

This is an observational study, and as such, can't establish cause. And the authors point out some limitations, including that they did not look at the reasons for changes in red meat consumption which could have influenced the results.

And the study participants were mainly white registered health professionals so the findings may not be more widely applicable.

But the authors say that the data gathered covered a large number of people over a long follow-up period, with repeated assessment of diet and lifestyle factors, and consistent results between the two cohorts. What's more, this is the first study of its kind to examine the association between changes in red meat intake and subsequent risk of mortality.

The findings provide "a practical message to the general public of how dynamic changes in red consumption is associated with health," they write.

"A change in protein source or eating healthy plant based foods such as vegetables or whole grains can improve longevity," they conclude.
-end-
Peer-reviewed? Yes
Type of evidence: Observational
Subjects: People

BMJ

Related Cardiovascular Disease Articles:

Is educational attainment associated with lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease?
Men and women with the lowest education level had higher lifetime risks of cardiovascular disease than those with the highest education level, according to a new study published by JAMA Internal Medicine.
Food policies could lower US cardiovascular disease rates
New research conducted by the University of Liverpool and partners shows that food policies, such as fruit and vegetable subsidies, taxes on sugar sweetened drinks, and mass media campaigns to change dietary habits, could avert hundreds of thousands of deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the United States.
Cardiovascular disease causes one-third of deaths worldwide
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart diseases and stroke, account for one-third of deaths throughout the world, according to a new scientific study that examined every country over the past 25 years.
Kidney disease is a major cause of cardiovascular deaths
In 2013, reduced kidney function was associated with 4 percent of deaths worldwide, or 2.2 million deaths.
Cardiovascular disease costs will exceed $1 trillion by 2035
A new study projects that by 2035, cardiovascular disease, the most costly and prevalent killer, if left unchecked, will place a crushing economic and health burden on the nation's financial and health care systems.
Prescribing drugs for cardiovascular disease prevention in the UK
Drugs such as statins that have the potential to prevent strokes and other types of cardiovascular disease have not been prescribed to a large proportion of people at risk in the UK, according to a research article by Grace Turner of the University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK and colleagues published in PLOS Medicine.
Fatty liver disease contributes to cardiovascular disease and vice versa
For the first time, researchers have shown that a bi-directional relationship exists between fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.
More dietary calcium may lower risk of cardiovascular disease
In older people, higher dietary calcium intake may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, but not of stroke and fracture, new research from South Korea suggests.
Renal hemodynamics and cardiovascular function in health and disease
The SRC will focus on unpublished work that is state-of-the-art in study of cardiovascular and renal disease and hypertension.
Cardiovascular disease in adult survivors of childhood cancer
For adult survivors of childhood cancer, cardiovascular disease presents at an earlier age, is associated with substantial morbidity, and is often asymptomatic.

Related Cardiovascular Disease Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...