The more red meat you eat, the greater your risk of dying from one of eight diseases, according to a new report.
Researchers studied more than 536,000 men and women ages 50 to 71, tracking their diet and health for an average of 16 years. They recorded intake of total meat, processed and unprocessed red meat (beef, lamb and pork), and white meat (poultry and fish).
Compared with the one-fifth of people who ate the least red meat, the one-fifth who ate the most had a 26 percent increased risk of death from various causes. High red meat consumption increased the rate of dying from cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, infections, kidney disease and liver disease. The study is in BMJ.
White meat, on the other hand, may be good for you. The researchers found that those who ate the highest proportion of white meat had a 25 percent reduced risk of dying from various causes compared with those who ate the least white meat.
“This is an observational study,” said the lead author, Arash Etemadi, an epidemiologist with the National Cancer Institute, “and we can’t determine whether red meat is responsible for these associations. But we have a 16-year follow-up, and we had the numbers to look at different causes, and we can see that it’s happening” for many causes of death.
An earlier version of this article misstated the diseases tied to red meat consumption. It is eight diseases, not nine; eating red meat was not linked to dying from Alzheimer’s disease.