(NaturalNews) Regular consumption of red meat can significantly increase the risk of blindness in old age, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Center for Eye Research Australia at the University of Melbourne and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
The researchers looked at the risk of age-related macular degeneration among 6,734 people between the ages of 58 and 69 who had filled out detailed food frequency questionnaires. A total of 1,757 participants eventually developed the condition.
Age-related macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of blindness in old age, is a condition that leads to the loss of vision in the center of the eye, but not at the periphery. The condition is incurable, but can be treated if diagnosed early.
An estimated 25 to 30 million people worldwide are believed to suffer from age-related macular degeneration.
The researchers found that participants who ate ten or more servings of red meat per week had a 47 percent higher risk of suffering from early-stage age-related macular degeneration than those who ate five or fewer servings of red meat per week. Fresh red meat and processed meat were found to have similar effects.
Those who ate 3.5 servings of chicken per week, in contrast, had a 57 percent lower risk of age-related macular degeneration than those who ate less than 1.5 servings a week.
"These results suggest that different meats may differently affect AMD risk and may be a target for lifestyle modification," the researchers said.
Prior studies have implicated red and processed meats in a number of health problems, such as a recent study finding that eating 150 grams (5.3 ounces, or one-third of a pound) of processed meat per day increased a person's risk of bowel cancer by 63 percent.
According to a recent survey by the World Cancer Research Fund, one in ten people have made efforts to reduce their consumption of processed meat.