Photo: sean dreilinger
Eating red meat significantly increases the risk of premature death, according to a long-term Harvard study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.The study tracked 37,698 men and 83,644 women (who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline) for up to 28 years. Questionnaires were administered every other year (with a 90 per cent return rate each time) to collect and update medical, lifestyle and other health-related information.
After adjusting for major lifestyle and dietary risk factors, the research found that red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and outright death.
Adding only a 3-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat — such as beef, hamburger, pork, lamb or game — to one’s daily diet was associated with a 13 per cent greater chance of dying during the course of the study.
Adding an extra daily serving of processed red meat — such as a hot dog, two slices of bacon, salami, sausage and luncheon meats — was linked to a 20 per cent higher risk of death.
The silver lining: substituting one serving of red meat with one serving of healthier food every day is associated with a 7 per cent to 19 per cent lower mortality risk.
The study found that the best substitution is nuts (19 per cent lower risk of dying), followed by whole grains (14 per cent), low-fat dairy or legumes (10 per cent) and fish (7 per cent).
Researchers also estimated that 9.3 per cent of deaths in men and 7.6 per cent in women in the study could have been prevented if the individuals consumed fewer than than 0.5 servings (1.5 ounces) per day of red meat.
The study’s lead author told CNN that he is not fully against eating meat but would like to see it replaced more.
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