Red Meat Consumption and Mortality

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Short Description:
This study uses two long term panel surveys to conduct a population study testing for the link between the consumption of red meat and mortality. The study finds that consumption of red meat is linked to increased mortality and that reducing red meat consumption by one serving a day decreases mortality by 7-19%. The authors estimate that 9.3% of deaths in men and 7.6% in women in this study population could have been prevented (at the time of the study) if they had reduced their red meat consumption by half of a serving per day.

Article Abstract:
"Red meat consumption has been associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases. However, its relationship with mortality remains uncertain. We prospectively observed 37,698 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2008) and 83,644 women from the Nurses' Health Study (1980-2008) who were free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer at baseline. Diet was assessed by validated food frequency questionnaires and updated every 4 years."
"We documented 23 926 deaths (including 5910 CVD and 9464 cancer deaths) during 2.96 million person-years of follow-up. After multivariate adjustment for major lifestyle and dietary risk factors, the pooled hazard ratio (HR) (95% CI) of total mortality for a 1-serving-per-day increase was 1.13 (1.07-1.20) for unprocessed red meat and 1.20 (1.15-1.24) for processed red meat. The corresponding HRs (95% CIs) were 1.18 (1.13-1.23) and 1.21 (1.13-1.31) for CVD mortality and 1.10 (1.06-1.14) and 1.16 (1.09-1.23) for cancer mortality. We estimated that substitutions of 1 serving per day of other foods (including fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy, and whole grains) for 1 serving per day of red meat were associated with a 7% to 19% lower mortality risk. We also estimated that 9.3% of deaths in men and 7.6% in women in these cohorts could be prevented at the end of follow-up if all the individuals consumed fewer than 0.5 servings per day (approximately 42 g/d) of red meat."
"Red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of total, CVD, and cancer mortality. Substitution of other healthy protein sources for red meat is associated with a lower mortality risk."

Spot Check Number: 1995
Sponsor: Harvard School of Public Health
Researcher/Author: An Pan; Qi Sun; Adam M. Bernstein; Matthias B. Schulze; JoAnn E. Manson; Meir J. Stampfer; Walter C. Willett; Frank B. Hu
Research Method: Panel Survey
Geographic Region: United States National
Number of Participants: 121,342
Population Descriptors: Men, Women, United States
Year Conducted: 2012
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