Higher Meat Consumption tied to heart disease, diabetes and pneumonia: Study
Several studies have established a link between consuming processed meat — such as bacon, hot dogs, sausages, and other similar meats — and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death. In a recent study, researchers have suggested that regular meat consumption was associated with higher risks of developing heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia and other serious illnesses. The study findings were published in BMC Medicine on March 02, 2021.
The World Health Organization and many national dietary advice bodies, in recent years, have recommended a reduction of red and processed meat consumption, based on consistent evidence linking high processed meat and probably red meat consumption with colorectal cancer risk. However, there is limited prospective evidence on the association between meat consumption and many common, non-cancerous health outcomes. Therefore, researchers of the University of Oxford, UK, conducted a study, to examine the associations of meat intake with the risk of 25 common conditions (other than cancer).
It was a prospective study of data from 474,985 middle-aged adults recruited into the UK Biobank study between 2006 and 2010 and, followed up until 2017 (mean follow-up 8.0 years) with available information on meat intake at baseline (collected via touchscreen questionnaire), and linked hospital admissions and mortality data. For a large sub-sample (~ 69,000), researchers re-measured the dietary intakes three or more times using an online, 24-h recall questionnaire.
Key findings of the study were:
• Upon analysis, researchers noted that the participants who consumed meat regularly (three or more times per week) had more adverse health behaviours and characteristics than participants who consumed meat less regularly which were substantially attenuated after adjustment for body mass index (BMI).
• They found that every 70 grams of unprocessed red meat and processed meat that a person consumed daily raised their risk of heart disease (1.15), pneumonia (1.31), diverticular disease (1.19), colon polyps (1.10), and diabetes (1.30).
• They noted similar results for unprocessed red meat and processed meat intakes separately.
• They found that every 30 grams of poultry meat eaten daily increased the risk of developing gastro-oesophageal reflux (1.17), gastritis and duodenitis (1.12), diverticular disease (1.10), gallbladder disease (1.11), and diabetes (1.14).
• However, they found that higher consumption of unprocessed red meat (50 g/day) was associated with a lower risk of iron deficiency anaemia (IDA:0.80).
• Similarly, higher consumption of poultry meat (30g /day) was associated with a lower risk of IDA (0.83).
The authors concluded, "Higher unprocessed red meat, processed meat, and poultry meat consumption was associated with higher risks of several common conditions; higher BMI accounted for a substantial proportion of these increased risks suggesting that residual confounding or mediation by adiposity might account for some of these remaining associations. Higher unprocessed red meat and poultry meat consumption was associated with lower IDA risk."
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