More red meat consumption appears to be associated with increased risk of death

Eating more red meat appears to be associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality and death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, but substituting other foods including fish and poultry for red meat is associated with a lower mortality risk, according to a study published Online First by Archives of Internal Medicine.

Meat is a major source of protein and fat in many diets and previous studies suggest that eating meat is associated with increased risk for diabetes, (CVD) and certain cancers, the authors write in their study background.

An Pan, Ph.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from two prospective cohort studies with repeated measures of diet and up to 28 years of follow-up. Data from 37,698 men and 83,644 women were used. Researchers documented 23,926 deaths, including 5,910 from CVD and 9,464 from cancer.

"We found that a higher intake of red meat was associated with a significantly elevated risk of total, CVD and , and this association was observed for unprocessed and processed red meat, with a relatively greater risk for processed red meat," the authors comment. "Substitution of fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products and whole grains for red meat was associated with a significantly lower risk of mortality."

The elevated risk of total mortality in the pooled analysis for a one-serving-per-day increase was 12 percent for total red meat, 13 percent for unprocessed red meat and 20 percent for processed red meat, the results indicate.

In their substitution analyses, the authors estimated that replacing one serving of total red meat with one serving of fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products or whole grains daily was associated with a lower risk of total mortality: 7 percent for fish, 14 percent for poultry, 19 percent for nuts, 10 percent for legumes, 10 percent for low-fat and 14 percent for .

"We estimated that 9.3 percent in men and 7.6 percent in women of total deaths during follow-up could be prevented if all the participants consumed fewer than 0.5 servings per day of total red meat in these cohorts," they comment.

In an invited commentary, Dean Ornish, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, writes: "In addition to their health benefits, the food choices we make each day affect other important areas as well. What is personally sustainable is globally sustainable. What is good for you is good for our planet."

"More than 75 percent of the $2.6 trillion in annual U.S. health care costs are from chronic disease. Eating less is likely to reduce morbidity from these illnesses, thereby reducing health care costs," he comments.

More information: Arch Intern Med. Published online March 12, 2012. doi:10.1001/archinternmend.2011.2287 ; doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.174

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DavidW
1 / 5 (1) Mar 12, 2012
Isn't it amazing the amount of money and time that must be spent just to prove the obvious: Man comes from 7-8 million years of almost 100% pure genetic herbivore heritage and only has about a million years as an omnivore. In the last million years of evolution man has used fire and so has not developed any modifications for the digestion of flesh. We cant walk outside and eat rotting flesh from the ground, like a dog, bear, or cat. Those that argue the point and try to prove otherwise and do it end up with worms on the brain. Really.

We cringe at the thought, sight, sound, and smell of killing. Cats dont have the problem, do they now? Milk is for babies. Not adults. If they removed the fish and milk from the diets, as long as they are complete diets, the results would be even better. This is one step at time for the hard to learn just like cigarettes were.

DavidW
not rated yet Mar 12, 2012
OverweightAmerican
not rated yet Mar 12, 2012
This article is too vague - is there any mention of the actual research methods? How can they draw these conclusions? Have they actually proven causation instead of just correlation?
ibuyufo
not rated yet Mar 12, 2012
This news, although it was obvious, truly saddens me that I must reduce the consumption of my favorite animals for my own health.
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (1) Mar 12, 2012
DavidW:
I take it that you're vegan, as I'm just a weak-willed vegetarian, unable to "go all the way" from a penchant for camembert and creme brulee. I admire you're fortitude against the onslaught of masticators of misery. You are, unfortunately, in the minority. But one day, certainly not in this lifetime, lives will be spared.
DavidW
1 / 5 (2) Mar 12, 2012
Telekinetic,
Thank you for the being honest.

I am not pushing being a vegan or vegetarian, I am reminding others that the only two things we have ever had since the beginning to now are truth and life. Whatever truth and life say, that's what we must do. Vegan? Yes, but only because it's the truth. We have other issues too. Again, the truth is needed for life to continue. Don't you fret; you will see it in your lifetime if you live a few more years. Man will have no choice soon enough. Either by choice or force, that day is coming. The resources to continue like this are almost gone, same as the opportunity to do the right thing when it needed to be done. You'll be fine no matter what happens.
euconsultants
not rated yet Mar 13, 2012
I believe that this is useless research because we all have to die, sooner or later. If I had to make a choice of celebrating a live and die a few years earlier or a sad live for some extra years I would go for the red meat.
CardacianNeverid
5 / 5 (1) Mar 13, 2012
Would be good to know what specifically about red meat produces these results. Throwing in precessed meats is a bad idea as it muddies the waters due to additives, fats, preservatives, salt, etc.

Or is it the case that people that consume lots of red meat (especially processed meats) tend to have a poorer overall diet and other poor lifestyle choices which lead to poorer health outcomes.
Skepticus
not rated yet Mar 13, 2012
If I had to make a choice of celebrating a live and die a few years earlier..

I sincerely wish you having a hell of a good time, and then going out with a bang, rather than lugging a colostomy bag, no hair and vomiting daily from chemotherapy and radiotherapy,pottering around in a wheelchair because of stroke...talk about food to die for. Enjoy in moderation!
alfie_null
not rated yet Mar 13, 2012
... celebrating a live and die a few years earlier or a sad live for some extra years...

Some people who eat meat seem to have more affinity towards eating meat. Doesn't mean vegetarians are less happy for not eating meat.
tadchem
not rated yet Mar 13, 2012
Medicine continues to grasp at straws, calling them 'risk factors', when it comes to identifying the causes of human diseases.
The "Risk of Death" is 100% - for every one of us. The phrase is meaningless because it is a tautology with the statement that "humans are mortal."
Far too often 'investigators' cherry-pick a 'study' that has little statistical significance and use it to support their rhetorical calls for control of some aspect of the behaviour of other people.
The call for control and the arrogant assumption that the investigators know better than *anyone* else what is best for *everyone* else identify 'campaigns' such as these as purely political.
AWaB
not rated yet Mar 13, 2012
This report is garbage. Were the people who ate more red meat also overweight? The sad state of reports coming from Harvard and many of the other supposedly good schools is pathetic.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Mar 13, 2012
"This report is garbage." - AWaBTard

Please eat more red meat.
SteveL
not rated yet Mar 13, 2012
There may be an affordability issue here. Meat is expensive and those who eat larger quantities of meat may simply be able to eat more than those who cannot usually afford meat. Usually eating less is better for you than excessive eating. Perhaps the meat eaters are simply eating more?

Of course the LDL cholestrol and fats from eating red meat are likely the most significant issue, it's just that when someone is able to consistantly eat expensive red meat it likely means they are regularly able to consume larger quantities.
tpb
not rated yet Mar 13, 2012
"14 percent for poultry", seems hard to believe.
If true, I could live with this, but I would like to know if this was fried, baked, processed, skinless, etc.
thewhitebear
5 / 5 (1) Mar 13, 2012
we are omnivores, plain and simple. what about the traditional cultures whose diet consisted almost entirely of animal products yet maintained robust health? To us a category like "meat" as an indicator is useless. what kind of meat? how was it grown? grass fed? corn fed? antibiotics? hormones? Did these people also eat organ meats or is this only for muscle meats? the human diet is far more complex than "don't eat meat, it's bad for you" meat is a critical part of human history and diet, and while it's not necessary for survival, animal products have a part to play in optimal health.
Xbw
1 / 5 (2) Mar 13, 2012
The obvious answer here is to resort to cannibalism. We need to train our genetic makeup to digest red meat properly. Who would like to volunteer someone to be the first victim?
speters14
not rated yet Mar 13, 2012
Thewhitebear has it right. LIkely what has caused the cancer is the grains that have been added to the diet of the animals, an unnatural diet for most animals, and shown to be cancer causing in humans. I believe that people will live longer, healthier, and definitely neurologically healthier lives if they are consuming grass fed beef, leafy green vegetables, and no grains. Unfortunately, we have Ancel Keys and George McGovern to thank for steering our country wrong in the 1970s in terms of saturated fat (which we need), and grains (which we don't need). The scientists are looking in the wrong places for the root cause of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, in part, because of these two men and their manipulation of scientific data.
ziphead
not rated yet Mar 13, 2012
It is doubtful that eating tons of red meat (or any other meat for that matter) will do you any more favours than consuming no animal protein at all. So, yet another study demonstrates what we all should know by now; moderation is the key in every respect.

Too bad there are characters that try to paint this study as something that it ain't; call to turn herbivore and grow eyes on the side of your head.

RitchieGuy
1 / 5 (2) Mar 13, 2012
Red meat from wild game was more heart-healthy than red meat from a farm animal that is sedentary for the most part and has large amounts of fat in with the meat.
Man was far healthier in a hunter-gatherer society with all that walking and running before they learned to tame horses for transportation. The men in the tribe would stalk their prey on foot, throw their spears and field-dress the carcass. On the way home to the cave, they would make camp and roast some of the meat on a spit and carry the rest of the carcass home for the women and children. Back in the cave the women had the job of preparing the hides by chewing on them to soften and peeing on the hides to cure them before cutting the hides and sewing them into shoes and clothing. Our ancestors didn't waste anything because it was so hard to come by, and the roasted meat was sweetest close to the bone, as they used to say. :) That's why deer meat (venison) is so sought after. A freezer full of venison is the best.
Xbw
1 / 5 (2) Mar 15, 2012
@ritchie
Perhaps they were more healthy in the sense that they could consume a wider variety of food with less consequences but they died young. Mainly because of lack of dental hygene, medical knowlege, basic cleanliness, and many other things.

They may have been able to stomach more foods but I'll take my 80 year average lifespan over that any day :)

Oh and venison is quite delicious though.
RitchieGuy
1 / 5 (2) Mar 16, 2012
Comes the day that Monsanto genetically modifies red meat as they've done to corn and soy, that's the day I will give up red meat.
BTW. . .bison meat is delicious and good for you.
Buffalo burgers. . .yum
d3bug
not rated yet Mar 18, 2012
So, in summary....

Boring = healthy
Tasty = harmful

and this is news how?