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High Meat Consumption Linked to Higher Death Risk

Red and processed meat associated with more deaths from cancer and higher heart disease risk

TUESDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- People who consume large amounts of red and processed meats have a higher risk of death, particularly from cancer and cardiovascular disease, according to a study in the March 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D., and colleagues from the National Institutes of Health in Rockville, Md., prospectively studied the association between death and intake of red, white and processed meat through a 124-item food frequency questionnaire given at baseline to 322,263 men and 223,390 women.

During 10 years of follow-up, 47,976 men and 23,276 women died. The researchers found that men and women who consumed large amounts of red and processed meats had a higher risk of overall mortality (hazard ratio approximately 1.3 and 1.2 for highest quintile versus lowest quintile). High consumption of red and processed meats was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality (hazard ratio approximately 1.2 and 1.1, respectively) and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease for red (hazard ratio 1.27-1.50) and processed meats (hazard ratio 1.09-1.38). White meat was not associated with an increase in mortality, the authors note.

Practitioners "have the role of advising their clients to consume small to moderate amounts of red meat and processed meats as a way to reduce the risk of a large number of chronic diseases," Barry M. Popkin, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, writes in an accompanying editorial.

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