(NaturalNews) A diet high in red or processed meats significantly raises a person's risk of early death, particularly from cancer and heart disease, according to a study conducted by researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
"The need is for a major reduction in total meat intake, an even larger reduction in processed meat and other highly processed and salted animal source food products, and a reduction in total saturated fat," wrote Barry Popkin of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, in an accompanying article.
The researchers reviewed dietary and mortality data for more than 500,000 people over a 10-year time period. They found that those with the highest intake of red or processed meat had a significantly higher risk of death from all causes than those who ate the lowest amount. The greatest risk increase was seen for death from heart disease or cancer.
Those who got most of their meat intake from white meats had a significantly lower risk of death than those who ate a higher proportion of red meat.
People in the highest intake group ate an average of 160 grams (5.6 ounces) of red or processed meat per day, while those in the lowest intake group ate an average of 25 grams (0.88 ounces) per day.
The researchers concluded that if everyone in the study had lowered their combined red and processed meat consumption to 25 grams per day, a full 11 percent of the deaths that took place among men and 16 percent of the deaths that took place among women could have been prevented.
A growing number of studies are pointing to the conclusion that red and processed meats can have a significant effect on human lifespan. According to a recent survey, 10 percent of U.K. residents have tried to reduce their intake of such meats in response to these findings.