I spend a lot of time on this blog glorifying protein from meat, which I do not stray from very easily. However, when new research comes out which challenges this in some way, I feel obliged to share it with you folks! So, here we go: a new study just out is suggesting that people who eat more red and processed meat may have a modestly increased risk of death from all causes and also from cancer or heart disease over a 10-year period.
In contrast, a higher intake of white meat appeared to be associated with a slightly decreased risk for overall death and cancer death. The study, out of the National Cancer Institute, assessed the association between meat intake and risk of death among more than 500,000 individuals as part of the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Their analysis of the follow-up period found that of the 47,976 men and 23,276 women who died, the 1/5 of men and women who ate the most red meat had a higher risk for overall death, death from heart disease and death from cancer than the one-fifth of men and women who ate the least red meat (a median of 9.8 grams per 1,000 calories per day), (the same for the 1/5 of men and women who ate the most vs. the least amount of processed meat). In contrast, when they compared the 1/5 of participants who ate the most white meat to the 1/5 who ate the least white meat, those with high white meat intake had a slightly lower risk for total death, death from cancer and death from causes other than heart disease or cancer. The scientists think that cancer-causing compounds are formed during high-temperature cooking of red meat. Also, we know that meat also is a major source of saturated fat, which has been associated with breast and colorectal cancer.
So what can we “take home” here? Well, I have to wonder if these people were also very low in veggies and fruits intake—we know that when you eat your meat alongside these foods, your risks plummet. Plus, we know here that when you choose red meat cuts, you should always look for the leanest you can buy. I believe that these factors may be key in whether your risk is increased…but we’ll stay alert for further studies, for sure.