Red meat raises risk of all kinds of death

Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:29pm EDT
 
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By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People who eat the most red meat and the most processed meat have the highest overall risk of death from all causes, including heart disease and cancer, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

The National Cancer Institute study is one of the largest to look at the highly controversial and emotive issue of whether eating meat is indeed bad for health.

Rashmi Sinha and colleagues looked at the records of more than 500,000 people aged 50 to 71 who filled out questionnaires on their diet and other health habits.

Even when other factors were accounted for -- eating fresh fruits and vegetables, smoking, exercise, obesity -- the heaviest meat-eaters were more likely to die over the next 10 years than the people who ate the least amount of meat.

"Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality," Sinha and colleagues wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

They divided the volunteers into five groups, called quintiles. Between 1995 and 2005, 47,976 men and 23,276 women died.

The quintile who ate the most red meat had a higher risk for overall death, death from heart disease and cancer than the men and women who ate the least red meat.

The researchers said thousands of deaths could be prevented if people simply ate less meat.   Continued...

 
<p>A hamburger in a file photo. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>