Eating Red and Processed Meat May Boost Death Risk

Red and processed meat has been a staple in Western diet, and it has influenced several cultures around the world to do the same. However, a recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that people who consume red meat and processed meats such as hamburgers and hot dogs were more likely to die sooner, especially from heart disease and cancer, compared to those who eat much less.

The study observed the diet of more than 500,000 Americans over a span of 10 years and they have found out that-with all other things being equal-men and women who consumed more red and processed meats have an increased mortality risk ranging from 20 to 40 percent.

According to the study, red meat consumption ranged from a low of less than one ounce per day to as much as four ounces a day, while processed meat consumption is averaged at one and a half ounces a day.

In contrast, the participants who consumed higher amounts of fish and white meat poultry, as well as those who ate larger amounts of fruits and vegetables had longer lives compared to those who did not. Poultry and fish have been touted as beneficial to our bodies as these contain lower amounts of saturated fat, while fish also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which is healthy to the heart.

While red meat is cooked or grilled, carcinogens can form on the surface. Processed meats, on the other hand, usually contain nitrosamines. Carcinogens, such as nitrosamines, are chemicals that have been linked to some forms of cancer. Researchers recommend lessening our consumption of red and processed meats to lower our chances of heart disease and cancer. They are suggesting limiting our consumption of hamburgers to once or twice a week, a small steak to every other day, and a hot dog to every six weeks.