Dead Meat

April 10th, 2009 | Sources: Archives Int. Medicine, BBC, Washington Post

A study from the National Cancer Institute has shown that excessive consumption of red meat, processed meat and pork increases all-cause mortality.

Rashmi Sinha and colleagues published the bad news in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The scientists reviewed data from 545,653 adult volunteers who participated in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Participants completed dietary questionnaires and were followed for 10 years.

After controlling for confounding variables, the scientists found that the most carnivorous women, who were good for a quarter-pound of red meat per day, were 36% percent more likely to die for any reason, 50% more likely to die of cardiac disease and 20% more likely to die of cancer.

It was about the same for men.

Heavy consumption of sausage, cold cuts and other processed meat resulted in the same fate, whereas big-time consumers of fish and white meat died off 8% less frequently than those who rarely ate them.

Previous studies had identified an association between red meat consumption and a higher risk of cardiac disease and colorectal cancer, but this one was the first to reveal a link to all cause mortality.

“The uniqueness of this study is its size and length of follow-up,” Barry Popkin told the Washington Post. The professor of nutrition at UNC added “if people want to be healthy and live longer, consume less red and processed meat.'”

The rap sheet on red meat is longer than Blagojevich’s. Cooking it generates carcinogens. It’s laced with saturated fat, which is linked to colorectal and breast cancer. It’s high in iron, another cancer promoter. It jacks up blood pressure and cholesterol, and so forth. 

For their part, processed meats contain carcinogenic nitrosamines, and pork bumps up cancer risk too, probably because it contains iron.

Youcan'tbeseriousThe American Meat Institute blew off the findings.

“Meat products are part of a healthy, balanced diet,” James Hodges, the group’s EVP told the Washington Post.

“Studies show they provide a sense of satisfaction and fullness that can help with weight control. Proper body weight contributes to good health overall.”


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