According to a recent study, published in the journal BMJ, heavy red meat consumption, particularly processed red meat, is associated with an increased risk of death. The researchers from Harvard University observed the link between changes in red meat consumption over an eight-year period with mortality rate during the next eight years, starting from 1986 to the end of follow-up in 2010. The study showed that swapping red meat with eggs, fish, vegetables and whole grains, over time may help you live longer.
The researchers of the study used data for 53,553 US registered female nurses, aged between 30 and 55, and 27,916 male health professionals in the US, aged between 40 and 75. At the start of the study, all the participants were free of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. The participants were given a food frequency questionnaire after every four years. In the questionnaire, they were asked how often, on an average, they ate each food of standard portion size in the past year. On the basis of changes in their red meat consumption, they were then divided into five categories.
During the study period, the total number of deaths from any cause reached 14,019 (8,426 women and 5,593 men) and the leading causes were cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and neurodegenerative disease.
As per the findings of the study, increasing total red meat intake by 3.5 servings a week or more over an eight-year period was associated with 10 per cent higher risk of death in the next eight years, after adjusting for age and other potentially influential factors.