Red Meat and Processed Meat Associated with a Higher Risk for All Cause Death

Red Meat

Higher consumption of red meat and processed meat, was associated with an increased risk of death from all causes for both men and women. This was according to a study by researchers at Harvard University published in the BMJ June 12, 2019.

Nurse’s Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study

Participants were 53,553 women (aged 30-55) from the Nurse’s Health Study and 27,916 men (aged 40-75) from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The men and women did not have cardiovascular disease or cancer at the beginning of the study.

Method

Both cohort groups filled out food frequency questionnaires in 1986 and every four years after that.

Red Meat

Red meat was defined as beef, lamb or pork.

Processed Red Meat

Types of processed red meat are:

  • Hot dogs
  • Bacon
  • Ham
  • Sausages
  • Salami
  • Pastrami
  • Bologna

Results

There were 14,019 deaths during the follow-up period, especially when there had been an increase in the consumption of red and/or processed meat. There was a lower risk of death when there had been a decrease in the consumption of red meat. A decrease in the consumption of red meat plus an increase in consuming whole grains, vegetables or other sources for protein led to a reduced risk for death for both men and women. A decrease in the consumption of red meat with an increase in the consumption of nuts and fish led to the lowest risks for death.

From the Nurse’s Health Study there were 8426 deaths during the follow-up period as follows:

1774 deaths were from cardiovascular disease

3138 from cancer

939 from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease

751 from respiratory diseases

1824 deaths were from other causes

From the Health Professionals Follow-up Study there were 5593 deaths during the follow-up period as follows:

1754 deaths were from cardiovascular disease

1754 deaths were from cancer

434 deaths were from respiratory diseases

375 were from neurodegenerative diseases

1276 deaths were from other causes

Diseases Associated with Red or Processed Red Meat

The chronic diseases associated with both red and processed red meat are:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) – See our blog post from December 12, 2018 about red meat and heart disease
  • Certain types of cancer like colorectal cancer

Additional Diseases Associated with Consumption of Red Processed Meat

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
  • High blood pressure

Components of Red and Processed Red Meat that may Lead to Disease

The researchers suggest that some of the components of red meat and processed red meat that may lead to disease are:

  • Saturated fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Heme iron
  • Potential carcinogens (cancer causing agents)
  • Salt (sodium)
  • Preservatives

Red Meat and Processed Red Meat are Treats and Should only be Eaten Occasionally

Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD from the Cleveland Clinic who did not take part in the study states that red meat and processed meat are a delicacy or treat and should only be eaten occasionally.  She suggests only eating red meat about twice a month. According to Kristin Kirkpatrick there have also been other studies linking the consumption of red meat, especially processed meat with poor health outcomes and a shorter life. In fact, an increase of at least half a serving of red or processed red meat was associated with a 13% higher risk for death.

Short-term Rehabilitation or Long-term Skilled Nursing Care

If you or  your loved one are in need of short-term rehabilitation or long-term skilled nursing care, the Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Galloway Township, New Jersey offers expert warm and compassionate care at its best. Royal Suites also has fine restaurant-style dining with a healthy and varied menu. You can choose to eat less red meat.

Conclusion

Based on these studies it pays to eat red meat less often and to increase the intake of fish and nuts to lower the risk for death from all causes.

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