Red meat linked to increased risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality

Killer hot dogs?

Statistical studies involving low rates/risks of common and multifactorial diseases/health outcomes are entirely meaningless.

The media release is below.


Red meat consumption linked to increased risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality

Boston, MA — A new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers has found that red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality. The results also showed that substituting other healthy protein sources, such as fish, poultry, nuts, and legumes, was associated with a lower risk of mortality.

The study will be published online in Archives of Internal Medicine on March 12, 2012.

“Our study adds more evidence to the health risks of eating high amounts of red meat, which has been associated with type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers in other studies,” said lead author An Pan, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH.

The researchers, including senior author Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH, and colleagues, prospectively observed 37,698 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study for up to 22 years and 83,644 women in the Nurses’ Health Study for up to 28 years who were free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer at baseline. Diets were assessed through questionnaires every four years.

A combined 23,926 deaths were documented in the two studies, of which 5,910 were from CVD and 9,464 from cancer. Regular consumption of red meat, particularly processed red meat, was associated with increased mortality risk. One daily serving of unprocessed red meat (about the size of a deck of cards) was associated with a 13% increased risk of mortality, and one daily serving of processed red meat (one hot dog or two slices of bacon) was associated with a 20% increased risk.

Among specific causes, the corresponding increases in risk were 18% and 21% for cardiovascular mortality, and 10% and 16% for cancer mortality. These analyses took into account chronic disease risk factors such as age, body mass index, physical activity, family history of heart disease, or major cancers.

Red meat, especially processed meat, contains ingredients that have been linked to increased risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. These include heme iron, saturated fat, sodium, nitrites, and certain carcinogens that are formed during cooking.

Replacing one serving of total red meat with one serving of a healthy protein source was associated with a lower mortality risk: 7% for fish, 14% for poultry, 19% for nuts, 10% for legumes, 10% for low-fat dairy products, and 14% for whole grains. The researchers estimated that 9.3% of deaths in men and 7.6% in women could have been prevented at the end of the follow-up if all the participants had consumed less than 0.5 servings per day of red meat.

“This study provides clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death,” said Hu. “On the other hand, choosing more healthful sources of protein in place of red meat can confer significant health benefits by reducing chronic disease morbidity and mortality.”


18 thoughts on “Red meat linked to increased risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality”

  1. quote (myself)
    “The underlying reason for this type confusing headlines is that many scientists confuse correlation with causality. They do a study, find a link between the one and the other (correlation) and then they just assume causality.

    A point in case:
    Conclusion of a study: Meat causes cancer, especially red meat.

    Correlation: more meat more cancer.
    Causality: Almost all meat, but certainly red meat, is roasted/baked/grilled. The process of roasting/baking/grilling produces aromatic esters which are known long time to be carcinogenic. Red meat is nearly always roasted/baked/grilled therefore one sees more cancer in people who eat red meat.

    The conclusion of the study would then have to be: Fried food increased the risk of cancer.”

  2. The higher incidence of mortality associated with those subjects who consumed daily portions of processed red meat ignores several other factors. Consumers that turn to processed meats for a significant source of their daily nutrition are probably more likely to have other lifestyle habits that increase their risk of cardiovascular disease. Think of factory workers with odd shifts, truck drivers or other occupations in which the choice of food options is often highly influenced by convenience and cost. The article did not indicate if the study evaluated the relationship between mortality with progressive amounts of red meat products. It only appeared to relate a daily consumption rate with a specific data point. I remember reading of a study many years ago relating daily hot dog consumption with brain cancer. Even then, as a teenager, I asked myself what kind of person consumes hot dogs every day. Whatever sort of person makes this dietary choice likely makes other lifestyle choices that are not conducive to good health!

  3. Male subjects who are the least red meat were more likely to take supplements (49%) than those who ate the most red meat (36.6%). Men who ate the most red meat were much more likely to be diabetic and to smoke, too…

  4. Common sense and a basic understanding of statistics is enough to show what a nonsense it this piece of green pseudo-science.

  5. Common sense and a basic knowledge of statistics is enough to show what a nonsense is this peace of a green pseudo-science.

  6. These studies rarely consider other dietary factors; those who abstain from ‘red meat’ (though humans are clearly carnivorous) due to their obsession with ‘healthiness’ are also likely to use more supplements etc.

  7. Statistics show that everyone who died was once alive. The association is 100%. Using the logic of the reported so called study, being alive is a fatal disease that none of us can escape except by never having been born. For most of is, it is simply too late. Might as well enjoy life while we have it and tell those (censored) busybodies to take hike and shut up!

  8. I wouldn’t say “liberals!” Libs are a dirty-word, to me,imo, and those telling us correctly about nutrition, have degrees, not agendas.

  9. They can all “talk” about it, as “dangerbase” mentions the bloviating of “nutty” professors. They would need a diet of “getting out in the real world” for a while and for a salary and benefits the other “mortals” are receiving.
    That ought to cure their eagerness to produce useless and/or redundant studies, that embellish their their “merits list”.
    Back to my initial statement: Let them “talk” about their ideas, but don’t give them the power of regulating.
    That’s a deadlier mix for all mankind, than all the red meat they can it.

  10. I asked a vegan if he was aware of the studies claiming that plants may have feelings and feel pain just like animals. I told him I couldn’t believe he condoned torturing plants by eating them. I suggested he go on the Haitian Mud-Cake Regimen right away.

    It’s interesting how the processed food industry has florished over the past century while the average lifespan has doubled during the same time period. Liberals, since they are able to see into the future, will tell us, however, that if we had been eating their suggested “healthy” diet these past decades we would be living to 125 years instead of 80. Who’ed a thunk it?

  11. –Do you prefer Elk or Venison? Have you ever had raw “hump-meat” from a freshly dressed Buffalo? I hear its delicious, even raw. As great as its supposed to be, I know of no place in the country where its on the menu, and I never see it in stores (which doesn’t mean its not available, maybe behind the counter…). Ted Turner, GREEN-Meanie-weenie, has thousands of buffalo in Nebraska. I wonder if a resturant near him would have it. If you’re a hunter, you are a Man among men, and you know quite a lot. I think it’s Noble to kill animals for food. Thank God, you’re with US, the deniers. Plus, you’ll never starve if you still have ammo. Do you dry your meat and treat it like pemican, or make jerky out of what you don’t eat fresh, then freeze? I know what hunting I’d NEVER do! Wound a cape buffalo with a spear to his shoulder, chasing him into the tall grass, and then wade in there after him with a 1911 45cal auto. I’d think, if I can’t stop him, he could grind me into the ground nearly as flat as a Philly cheese-steak, right? Man-eating big cats would be bad, also, especially a pair like the Twin Ghosts of Savo( lions).

  12. Well since eating meat also depletes our planet’s resources as well as contributes substantially to premature death, wouldn’t the utlimate act of food activism be to stop eating and starve to death.

  13. Let’s just quit eating meat and all the other things that cause risk to our health . . . that would have a profound effect on disease. But then, what would some of these “nutty” professors have to bloviate about. They all need to get together and conduct a study of themselves on the consequences of what they eat. Aren’t all humans genetically different? Does that make the studies irrevelant?

  14. I find the best red meat is that which I shoot and process myself, no additives at all, but then what would I know?

  15. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Eating red meat that has 25% goo mixed in with ground chuck is enough to kill anyone. The question is what is this gooey stuff? (today’ 3/12/2012)You can thank the meat packers for that. Well, I guess I will have to eliminate Casper hot dogs from my diet, even though I only eat them several times a year. What’s next, onions and red radishes cause cerebral palsy. Good grief!!!

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