Meat lovers take note. Consuming red and processed meat even in small to moderate amounts may increase the risk of death from all causes, especially cardiovascular disease, revealed a latest study published in the journal 'Nutrients'. Red meat has been under the scanner for quite some time. Previous studies have linked consumption of processed meat with obesity and inflammation.
Processed meat is modified to improve flavours of the meat. They are cured, salted and smoked according as part of the process. Compared to red meat, processed meat was not so significantly associated with risk of mortality due to a very small proportion of the population who consume such meat.
Saeed Mastour Alshahrani, lead author of the study said that the research looked at relatively higher levels of red meat intake and compared them with low intakes. Something that not many previous studies have done before, the findings have come as a shock to many.
"A question about the effect of lower levels of intakes compared to no-meat eating remained unanswered," Alshahrani said.
"We wanted to take a closer look at the association of low intakes of red and processed meat with all-cause, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer mortality compared to those who didn't eat meat at all," the author added.
This study is part of the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2), a prospective cohort study of approximately 96,000 Seventh-day Adventist men and women in the United States and Canada. Adventists are a unique population -- approximately 50 per cent are vegetarians, and those who consume meat do so at low levels.This allowed researchers to investigate the effect of low levels of red and processed meat intake compared to zero-intake in a large setting such as the Adventist Health Study.
For the study, the researchers evaluated the deaths of over 7,900 individuals over an 11-year period. Their diet was carefully assessed by a validated quantitative food frequency questionnaire and mortality outcome data were obtained from the National Death Index. Individuals who ate meat, 90 percent cent of them only ate about two ounces or less of red meat daily.
The findings revealed that among reported deaths 2600 were due to cardiovascular disease and over 1,800 were cancer deaths.
Michael Orlich, the co-author of the study, said "Our findings give additional weight to the evidence already suggesting that eating red and processed meat may negatively impact health and lifespan," Orlich concluded.