Red meat can lead to early death, study says
Eating red meat increases the chances of dying prematurely, according to a large federal study that offers powerful new evidence that a diet that regularly includes steaks, burgers and pork chops is hazardous to your health.
WASHINGTON — Eating red meat increases the chances of dying prematurely, according to a large federal study that offers powerful new evidence that a diet that regularly includes steaks, burgers and pork chops is hazardous to your health.
The study of more than 500,000 middle-age and elderly Americans found that those who consumed the equivalent of about a small hamburger every day were more than 30 percent more likely to die during the 10 years they were followed, mostly from heart disease and cancer.
Sausage, cold cuts and other processed meats also increased the risk. But routine consumption of fish, chicken, turkey and other poultry decreased the risk of death by a small amount, the study found.
Previous research had found a link between red meat and an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, but the new study is the first large examination of the relationship between eating meat and overall mortality.
"The bottom line is we found an association between red meat and processed meat and an increased risk of mortality," said Rashmi Sinha of the National Cancer Institute, who led the study published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Cooking red meat generates cancer-causing compounds; red meat is also high in saturated fat, which has been associated with breast and colorectal cancer; and meat is also high in iron, which also is believed to promote cancer. People who eat red meat are more likely to have high blood pressure and cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. Processed meats contain substances known as nitrosamines, which have been linked to cancer.
For the study, researchers analyzed data collected from 545,653 volunteers, ages 50 to 71 starting in 1995. Over the next 10 years, 47,976 men and 23,276 women died.
Flush from alcohol tied to cancer risk
People whose faces turn red when they drink alcohol may be facing more than embarrassment. The flushing may indicate an increased risk for a deadly throat cancer, researchers report.
The flushing, which may be accompanied by nausea and a rapid heartbeat, is caused mainly by an inherited deficiency in an enzyme called ALDH2, a trait shared by more than a third of people of East Asian ancestry — Japanese, Chinese or Koreans. Even half a bottle of beer can trigger the reaction.
The deficiency results in problems in metabolizing alcohol, leading to an accumulation of the toxin acetaldehyde in the body. People with two copies of the gene responsible have such unpleasant reactions that they are unable to consume large amounts of alcohol. This aversion actually protects them against the increased risk for cancer.
But those with only one copy can develop a tolerance to acetaldehyde and become heavy drinkers.
"What we're trying to do here is raise awareness of this risk factor," said Philip J. Brooks, an investigator with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and an author of the report published Monday in the journal PLoS Medicine. "It's a pretty serious risk."
Seattle Times news services
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 10:01 AM
Rebels tighten hold on Libya oil port
UPDATE - 09:29 AM
Reality leads US to temper its tough talk on Libya
UPDATE - 09:38 AM
2 Ark. injection wells may be closed amid quakes
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
Furniture & home furnishings
POST A FREE LISTING