These huge Harvard studies followed 37,698 men for twenty-two years and 83,644 women for twenty-eight years. They found that eating only one deck of card size serving of red meat a day was associated with a 13% greater risk of dying during the study. If the meat was processed, the fatal effect was even greater: only one serving a day of processed red meat (like one hot dog or two strips of bacon) was associated with a 20% increase risk of death. Cardiovascular mortality went up 18% for one serving of red meat a day and 21% for one serving of processed red meat. Cancer mortality went up by 10% for red meat and 16% for processed red meat.

The researchers estimated that cutting your red meat consumption to less than half a serving of only 42 grams a day would have prevented 9.3% of those deaths in men and 7.6% in women.

Contrary to the common media take on this study that it demonstrates the need for moderation, this study actually shows that even including very small amounts of meat in your daily diet is a serious risk factor. The authors conclude that red meat consumption is associated with a signifiantly higher risk of total, cardiovascular and cancer mortality.

  • Arch Intern Med on Line March 12, 2012 doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2287
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