Too Much Red, Processed Meat Linked to Shorter Lives, Study Says

Red or processed meats are often on the menu at a holiday weekend cookout. But you might want to “hold the hamburger,” according to one recent study.

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CLEVELAND – Red or processed meats are often holiday cookout staples.

But we might want to pass on the hamburgers and hotdogs this Labor Day weekend, according to one recent study.

Cleveland Clinic’s, Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, did not take part in the research, but said results show people who eat more red meat – especially processed meat – may have shorter lives.

“What they looked at, is if you have additional servings of meats every single day throughout the course of a few years, what did that relate to? They found in both men and women it did relate to an increase in mortality, so higher chance of dying early,” she said.

Researchers studied data from 53,553 women and 27,916 men.

They analyzed changes in red meat consumption over eight years, and then followed study participants for the next eight years.

Results showed an increase in eating red meat, especially processed meat, was associated with higher risk of early death.

The study also showed eating healthier types of meat –such as poultry, or plant-based foods – was associated with a lower risk of death when compared with red meat.

Kirkpatrick said multiple studies have been published recently linking red meat to disease and poor health, and suggests eating it no more than twice a month.

“It’s not the one hot dog that we have once a month, or at a special event, that leads to increased mortality and chronic disease risk,” she said. “It’s when we have it multiple times a week; it’s when we’re having it all the time.” 

Kirkpatrick said red or processed meats should be viewed as a treat and eaten only once in a while.

When red meat does make its way onto the dinner plate, she recommends trying healthier types – like grass fed beef which contains more omega-3’s – or wild meats like bison, or even elk, which are lower in fat.

Complete results of the study can be found in The BMJ.

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