(NaturalNews) Red and processed meat in excess has long been suspected of being less than good for your health. A recent study confirms that higher consumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of cancer, heart disease and other related illnesses.
The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute and was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in late March 2009. It is among the largest studies to date linking cancer, heart disease and other illnesses to red meat and processed meat consumption.
More than 500,000 men and women were included in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. Participants were between 50 and 71 in age in 1995 when the study began. Each person had to provide detailed information about what foods they were eating. They were followed for 10 years and during this time Social Security Administration`s databases were used to track causes of death. During the period of the study, 47,976 men and 23,276 women died. People were divided into five categories. These five categories were according to how much red and processed meat was consumed on a daily basis.
In this study red meat included bacon, beef, liver, pork, pork sausage, ham, hamburger, hot dogs, steak and meats found in pizza, stews, lasagna and related dishes. Processed meat consisted of either red or white meat that was cured, dried or smoked such as bacon, lunch meats and cold cuts. White meat included chicken, chicken mixtures, fish, turkey and other related meats. The men and women who ate the most meat (both red meat and processed meat) had a higher overall risk of death during the study compared to those who ate the least red and processed meat.
Men who ate the most red meat had a 31% higher overall risk of death during the study than those that ate the least red meat. Women with the largest intake of red meat had a 50% higher risk of death due to heart disease.
Study researcher Rashmi Sinha, PhD said that 11% of deaths in men and 16% of deaths in women could have been prevented if red meat intake had been lowered to the same amount as the lowest intake group. The highest processed meat intakes were found to increase the risk of death by 16% in men and 25% in women. Cancer risk increased 20% in those who ate the most red meat and 10% in those who ate the most processed meats. White meat on the other hand showed protective qualities by slightly lowering the risk of death in the group that ate the most.
What You Can Do
Sinha told WebMD that she could not make recommendations based on the study but that the results complement the advice of organizations such as the American Institute for Cancer Research. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends eating at most 18 ounces of red meat per week and avoiding processed meats altogether, because cancer risk starts to increase with any amount of processed meat.
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