Eating red and processed meat associated with increased risk of death

Mar 23, 2009

Individuals who eat more red meat and processed meat appear to have a modestly increased risk of death from all causes and also from cancer or heart disease over a 10-year period, according to a report in the March 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. In contrast, a higher intake of white meat appeared to be associated with a slightly decreased risk for overall death and cancer death.

" intake varies substantially around the world, but the impact of consuming higher levels of meat in relation to chronic disease mortality [] is ambiguous," the authors write as background information in the article.

Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D., and colleagues at the National Institute, Rockville, Md., assessed the association between and risk of death among more than 500,000 individuals who were part of the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. Participants, who were between 50 and 71 years old when the study began in 1995, provided demographic information and completed a food frequency questionnaire to estimate their intake of white, red and processed meats. They were then followed for 10 years through Social Security Administration Death Master File and National Death Index databases.

During the follow-up period, 47,976 men and 23,276 women died. The one-fifth of men and women who ate the most (a median or midpoint of 62.5 grams per 1,000 calories per day) had a higher risk for overall death, death from and death from cancer than the one-fifth of men and women who ate the least red meat (a median of 9.8 grams per 1,000 calories per day), as did the one-fifth of men and women who ate the most vs. the least amount of (a median of 22.6 grams vs. 1.6 grams per 1,000 calories per day).

When comparing the one-fifth of participants who ate the most white meat to the one-fifth who ate the least white meat, those with high white meat intake had a slightly lower risk for total death, death from cancer and death from causes other than heart disease or cancer.

"For overall mortality, 11 percent of deaths in men and 16 percent of deaths in women could be prevented if people decreased their red meat consumption to the level of intake in the first quintile [one-fifth]. The impact on cardiovascular disease mortality was an 11 percent decrease in men and a 21 percent decrease in women if the red meat consumption was decreased to the amount consumed by individuals in the first quintile," the authors write. "For women eating processed meat at the first quintile level, the decrease in cardiovascular disease mortality was approximately 20 percent."

There are several mechanisms by which meat may be associated with death, the authors note. Cancer-causing compounds are formed during high-temperature cooking of meat. Meat also is a major source of saturated fat, which has been associated with breast and colorectal cancer. In addition, lower meat intake has been linked to a reduction in risk factors for heart disease, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

"These results complement the recommendations by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund to reduce red and processed meat intake to decrease cancer incidence," the authors conclude. "Future research should investigate the relation between subtypes of meat and specific causes of mortality."

More information: Arch Intern Med. 2009;169[6]:562-571.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals (news : web)

Explore further: Tax forms could pose challenge for HealthCare.gov

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cancer risks of eating red and processed meat

Dec 11, 2007

New findings provide evidence that people who eat a lot of red and processed meats have greater risk of developing bowel and lung cancer than people who eat small quantities. The research by Amanda Cross and colleagues at ...

Recommended for you

Can YouTube save your life?

Aug 29, 2014

Only a handful of CPR and basic life support (BLS) videos available on YouTube provide instructions which are consistent with recent health guidelines, according to a new study published in Emergency Medicine Australasia, the jo ...

Doctors frequently experience ethical dilemmas

Aug 29, 2014

(HealthDay)—For physicians trying to balance various financial and time pressures, ethical dilemmas are common, according to an article published Aug. 7 in Medical Economics.

AMGA: Physician turnover still high in 2013

Aug 29, 2014

(HealthDay)—For the second year running, physician turnover remains at the highest rate since 2005, according to a report published by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA).

Obese or overweight teens more likely to become smokers

Aug 29, 2014

A study examining whether overweight or obese teens are at higher risk for substance abuse finds both good and bad news: weight status has no correlation with alcohol or marijuana use but is linked to regular ...

User comments : 0