(NaturalNews) A controlled study conducted in the U.S by researchers at the National Cancer Institute indicates that men and women whose diets are high in red or processed meats are more likely to die from cancer or heart disease. The study included data collected over a 10-year period between 1995 and 2005, and involved half a million males and females between the ages of 50 and 71.
According to the results of the study, published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, those who ate 4 ounces of red meat per day - or a serving equal to a small steak - had a more than 30 percent increased mortality rate compared to those who ate the smallest amount of red meat.
Last week the Ottawa Citizen reported that the Canadian Cancer Society, in response to the study, is planning to change its recommended limit on red and processed meats. Heather Chappell, the Canadian Cancer Society's senior manager of cancer control policy says, "This takes it that next step and actually looks at the impact that has on cancer deaths. This really is a significant addition to our body of knowledge in this area."
322,263 men and 223,390 women from eight U.S. states filled out questionnaires detailing their usual food and drink consumption. The red meat included beef, cold cuts, hamburger, liver, pork, sausage, as well as meats in prepared meals such as pizza and lasagna. White meat included chicken, turkey, fish, cold cuts, tuna, and sausages made from poultry.
The heaviest meat eaters ate about 8 1/2 servings of meat per week and had a 31 per cent increase in mortality rates in comparison to the lightest meat eaters, who consumed about one serving of meat per week.
Jennifer Macey of Australia's AM radio broadcast interviewed one of the authors of the study, Dr. Rashmi Sinha, to inquire about methods used to ensure that results were due to red and processed meat consumption and not due to other factors.
Sinha explains, "We were controlled for many different factors such as body mass index, family history of cancer, alcohol intake, education, smoking, other dietary factors, so we tried to control to the best of our ability with the information that we had."
The researchers reported that if the lowest level of intake of meats was consumed by all participants, 11 per cent of deaths in men and 16 per cent of deaths in women could have been prevented.
Cancer deaths increased by 22 per cent, and cardiovascular-related deaths increased by 27 per cent among the heavy meat eaters that were male. For females, the increases in death rates among the heavy meat eaters were 20 per cent for cancer and 50 per cent for heart disease.
This study was much broader in scope than past studies that have compared death rates in different types of meat eaters. Prior studies have been conducted involving vegetarian populations in the U.S. and Europe, as well as on Seventh-Day Adventists, who promote a vegetarian diet.
Sinha explained, "They combined their results, so it was a bit more ambiguous. This is a big study. That's what's interesting."
These results come on the heels of a similar study conducted in the U.K. that analyzed data from 52,700 men and women. In that U.K. study, those that did not eat meat had a significantly lower risk of cancer than those that did eat meat.