Red Meat Tied to Risk of Earlier Death

By Emily Murray

It’s long been acknowledged that eating an excess of red meat can lead to damage in the body, but a recent study has revealed that the damage may be more severe than we thought. According to the findings, it may take as little as one serving of red meat a day to increase the risk of early death.

For a nation that loves meat, this may put a bit of a damper on our dining.

This rather shocking result came from a study that followed over 120,000 Americans (both men and women) which showed that daily consumption of unprocessed red meat was linked with a 13 percent increase in mortality risk. Additionally, processed meats are believed to have an even more severe impact on overall health. If you eat one hot dog or two bacon strips a day, you could be at a 20 percent higher risk of early death than those who refine from processed meats.

Out or all the participants who were questioned about their red meat intake, almost three quarters said they consumed one or more servings of red meat each day.

When you consider how often most of us eat meat each day, this study becomes even more significant. From home cooked meals, to carefully planned school lunches, for the most part it’s been believed that this type of protein is part of a well balanced meal. So how exactly can it be harmful to our health?

The co-author of the study, Dr. Frank Hu, attributes several factors to this correlation between red meat and  early death stating that those who eat red meat frequently also tend to have other bad health habits. These habits include drinking alcohol, smoking and refraining from physical activity. There is also a noticeable trend in this type of eating pattern that excludes taking in vegetables daily which could also attribute to poor overall health and nutrition.

It’s important to note that the study does not  necessarily claim that red meat causes an earlier death, but simply that there appears to be a link between earlier death and red meat consumption. For those who are “meat and potato” types, this may be a bit disheartening, but perhaps it is time to look to other types of protein sources.

Switching to poultry or fish a few nights a week can help break up the constant red meat consumption and provide a more well balanced meal.

What do you think? Is red meat really all that bad? Would you have trouble cutting back?