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Posted on 04-05-2012

Good morning!

Many people of heard that intake of meat can lead to increased risk of mortality.  But what meats specifically are harmful or are all of them?  You speak to most vegans and you will hear that all meat is bad but what does the science say?  This article from the Archives of Internal Medicine looks at this very issue.

FROM ABSTRACT OF THE STUDY:
Background
High intakes of red or processed meat may increase the risk of mortality. Our objective was to determine the relations of red, white, and processed meat intakes to risk for total and cause-specific mortality.

Methods
The study population included the National Institutes of Health-AARP (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons) Diet and Health Study cohort of half a million people aged 50 to 71 years at baseline. Meat intake was estimated from a food frequency questionnaire administered at baseline.

Main outcome measures included total mortality and deaths due to cancer, cardiovascular disease, injuries and sudden deaths, and all other causes.

Results
There were 47,976 male deaths and 23,276 female deaths during 10 years of follow-up.

Men and women in the highest vs. lowest quintile of red and processed meat intakes had elevated risks for overall mortality.

Regarding cause-specific mortality, men and women had elevated risks for cancer mortality for red and processed meat intakes.

Furthermore, cardiovascular disease risk was elevated for men and women in the highest quintile of red and processed meat intakes.

When comparing the highest with the lowest quintile of white meat intake, there was an inverse association for total mortality and cancer mortality, as well as all other deaths for both men and women.

Conclusion
Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality.

THESE AUTHORS ALSO NOTE:

"The main sources of protein in a vegetarian diet are legumes, grains, and nuts. Vegetarian diets also include higher intakes of vegetables, unsaturated fats, dietary fiber, and antioxidants (carotenoids and vitamins C and E), although they contain lower amounts of iron, zinc, and vitamin B12."

This study used 322,263 men and 223,390 women aged 50 to 71 years.

RESULTS


RED MEAT
"There was an overall increased risk of total, cancer, and CVD mortality, as well as all other deaths in both men and women in the highest compared with the lowest quintile of red meat intake in the fully adjusted model."

WHITE MEAT
"When comparing the highest with the lowest quintile of white meat intake, there was an inverse association for total mortality and cancer mortality, as well as all other deaths for both men and women."

PROCESSED MEAT
"There was an overall increased risk of total, cancer, and CVD mortality, as well as all other deaths in both men and women in the highest compared with the lowest quintile of processed meat intake."

Both men and women who consumed a low-risk meat diet had statistically significant lower mortality risk profiles compared with people who consumed a high- risk meat diet for all-cause, cancer, and CVD mortality, as well as all other deaths.

"For overall mortality, 11% of deaths in men and 16% of deaths in women could be prevented if people decreased their red meat consumption to the level of intake in the first quintile."

COMMENT FROM AUTHORS

"We found modest increases in risk for total mortality, as well as cancer and CVD mortality, with higher intakes of red and processed meat in both men and women."

"In contrast, higher white meat consumption was associated with a small decrease in total and cancer mortality in men and women."

"There are various mechanisms by which meat may be related to mortality. In relation to cancer, meat is a source of several multisite carcinogens, including heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are both formed during high-temperature cooking of meat, as well as N-nitroso compounds. Iron in red meat may increase oxidative damage and increase the formation of N-nitroso compounds. Furthermore, meat is a major source of saturated fat, which has been positively associated with breast and colorectal cancer."

"Red and processed meat intakes, as well as a high-risk meat diet, were associated with a modest increase in risk of total mortality, cancer, and CVD mortality in both men and women."

"In contrast, high white meat intake and a low-risk meat diet was associated with a small decrease in total and cancer mortality."

KEY POINTS TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS

1) This study used 322,263 men and 223,390 women aged 50 to 71 years, and followed them for 10 years.

2) Increased consumption of red and processed meat is associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality.

3) RED MEAT: "There was an overall increased risk of total, cancer, and CVD mortality, as well as all other deaths in both men and women in the highest compared with the lowest quintile of red meat intake in the fully adjusted model."

4) PROCESSED MEAT: "There was an overall increased risk of total, cancer, and CVD mortality, as well as all other deaths in both men and women in the highest compared with the lowest quintile of processed meat intake."

5) WHITE MEAT: White meat consumption was associated with a slightly reduced total mortality and cancer mortality.

6) Both men and women who consumed a low-risk meat diet had statistically significant lower mortality risk profiles compared with people who consumed a high- risk meat diet for all-cause, cancer, and CVD mortality, as well as all other deaths.

7) "For overall mortality, 11% of deaths in men and 16% of deaths in women could be prevented if people decreased their red meat consumption to the level of intake in the first quintile."

8) "We found modest increases in risk for total mortality, as well as cancer and CVD mortality, with higher intakes of red and processed meat in both men and women."

9) "In contrast, higher white meat consumption was associated with a small decrease in total and cancer mortality in men and women."

10) "Red and processed meat intakes, as well as a high-risk meat diet, were associated with a modest increase in risk of total mortality, cancer, and CVD mortality in both men and women."

11) "High white meat intake and a low-risk meat diet was associated with a small decrease in total and cancer mortality."

12) Reasons red and processed meats could increase death include:

  1. A))  Compounds in meat are carcinogenic, including:

    1. 1)))  Heterocyclic amines

    2. 2)))  Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

    3. 3)))  N-nitroso compounds

  2. B))  Iron in red meat may increase oxidative damage

C))) Meat is a major source of saturated fat, "which has been positively associated with breast and colorectal cancer"

Processed meats contain harmful chemicals and are particularly carcinogenic.

Although white meat consumption reduced mortality, it reduced mortality when compared to other meat eaters, not when compared to vegetarians.

I advocate for moderate meat consumption as meat will give you the broad spectrum of needed amino acids that you just cannot get from a vegan diet.  Everything in moderate...other than the veggies.

Have a blessed day!

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