March 13, 2012
Red Meat May Shorten Life Expectancy, Study Says
Researchers at Harvard Medical School said that a diet high in red meat may be shortening life expectancy.
The study suggests that red meat increased the risk of death from cancer and heart problems in its 120,000 participants.
The Harvard researchers said substituting red meat with fish, chicken and nuts lowered the risks.
The team analyzed data from 37,698 men between 1986 and 2008, and 83,644 women between 1980 and 2008.
They said that adding an extra portion of unprocessed red meat to someone's daily diet would increase the risk of death by 13 percent. They also found that it would increase the risk of fatal cardiovascular disease by 18 percent, and fatal cancer by 10 percent.
The researchers found that the figures for processed meat were higher, with a 20 percent overall mortality, 21 percent for death from heart problems and 16 percent for cancer mortality.
"We found that a higher intake of red meat was associated with a significantly elevated risk of total, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality," the authors wrote in a press release.
"This association was observed for unprocessed and processed red meat with a relatively greater risk for processed red meat."
The researchers said saturated fat from red meat may be behind the increased heart risk and the sodium used in processed meats may "increase cardiovascular disease risk through its effect on blood pressure."
The results of the study were published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.
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