Study Claims Eating Red Meat May Affect Longevity
A recent National Cancer Institute (NCI) study has concluded that consumption of red and processed meat modestly raises the risk of death from all causes, including heart disease and cancer. Rashmi Sinha, et al., “Meat Intake and Mortality: A Prospective Study of Over Half a Million People,” Archives of Internal Medicine, March 23, 2009. In one of the largest studies of its kind, NCI researchers examined dietary and lifestyle questionnaires submitted by more than 500,000 people ages 50 to 71. During 10 follow-up years in which 47,976 men and 23,276 women died, the group that reported eating the most red meat had the higher risk of death overall, death from heart disease and death from cancer, than the people who ate the least amount of red meat.
“Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality,” the study concludes. “In contrast, high white meat intake and a low-risk meat diet was associated with a small decrease in total cancer mortality. 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.”
Barry Popkin, a nutrition expert and economist at the University of North Carolina, called the study “excellent” in an accompanying editorial. The meat industry, however, denounced the study as flawed. “Meat products are part of a healthy, balanced diet and studies show they actually provide a sense of satisfaction and fullness that can help with weight control. Proper body weight contributes to good health overall,” said an American Meat Institute executive in published reports. See Reuters.com and Foodnavigator-usa.com, March 24, 2009.