News

Study: Eating Red Meat Increases Death Risk

Consuming processed meats presents even greater danger

A daily serving of unprocessed red meat, such as steak or hamburger, raises the risk of premature death by 13 percent, according to a new Harvard study.
A daily serving of unprocessed red meat, such as steak or hamburger, raises the risk of premature death by 13 percent, according to a new Harvard study.
Art Chimes

Eating red meat increases the risk of premature death, according to a new study, which also finds consuming processed meats presents an even greater risk.

The study tracked 120,000 Americans for up to 28 years, using data from two huge, ongoing studies of nurses and other health professionals. Their health is monitored and correlated with their living habits - including their diet.

"So, both processed and unprocessed red meat [were] associated with substantially increased risk of mortality," says Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health, the study's senior author. "And clearly the risk associated with processed red meat is much higher than that for unprocessed red meat."

The researchers concluded that adding one 85-gram serving per day of unprocessed red meat, such as steak or hamburger, raised the risk of premature death by 13 percent.

Switch to a daily serving of processed meat - just two pieces of bacon or 28 grams of sausage, for example - and the risk goes up 20 percent.

In particular, eating red meat was linked to higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease and from cancer.

The study also found that substituting other foods for red meat - such as fish, poultry, and whole grains - could substantially cut the risk of premature death.

Although the study tracked participants for more than two decades in many cases, Hu says the impact of a change in diet can often be seen much sooner.

"In most situations, dietary factors have immediate and short-term effects on cardiovascular risk factors and type 2 diabetes," Hu said. "So I don't think you have to wait for 20 years for the increased risk to occur."

The meat industry is taking issue with the findings.  

Betsy Booren, director of Scientific Affairs for the American Meat Institute Foundation, criticizes the study's methodology, which included asking participants to remember how much meat they ate in the past.

Booren also points out that eating habits are only one of a number of factors that can affect disease and death.

"Many chronic diseases - cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer - the main risk factors are not food products," she says. "It's obesity, being overweight, and your genetics."

Hu's study did include a statistical adjustment for obesity and family history of disease, plus smoking, and found that red meat still contributed to premature death and disease.

Hu says his study doesn't mean that everyone should become a vegetarian, but that choosing alternative sources of protein may be a good idea.

"We found that other sources of protein, such as fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, and no-fat dairy products can have substantial benefits if they are used to replace red meat."

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs