Researchers have found new evidence showing that even low consumption of red and processed meat can increase health risks which may shorten lifespan.
A step further from previous studies on the health implication of eating red and processed meat in large amounts, this new study shows that eating red meat occasionally may shorten lifespan.
The new study, which was carried out by researchers at Loma Linda University Health in California, looked at 96,000 Seventh-day Adventists in the US and Canada — which was later trimmed to 72,149.
Since about 50 per cent of Adventists are vegetarians, and those who do eat meat only eat small amounts, using this method allowed the researchers to investigate the effect of a low level intake of red and processed meat compared to eating no meat in a large setting.
“A question about the effect of lower levels of intakes compared to no-meat eating remained unanswered,” said Saeed Alshahrani, the study’s lead author said.
“We wanted to take a closer look at the association of low intakes of red and processed meat with all-cause, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer mortality compared to those who didn’t eat meat at all.”
Using the data, the researchers investigated the death of more than 7,900 Adventists over an 11-year period. They also carried out a dietary assessment of the same individuals using food frequency questionnaires.
Findings revealed that among the participants who consumed meat, 90 per cent ate 2 ounces or less of red meat per day.
The study also showed that cardiovascular disease was responsible for almost 2,600 death cases, while more than 1,800 deaths related to cancer.
Published in the journal Nutrients, the study concluded that there was an association between the consumption of a combination of red and processed meats and a higher risk of both total and cardiovascular disease deaths.
Michael Orlich, co-author of the study, also said the findings supported the growing body of research which suggests that red and processed meats can have a negative effect on health.
“Our findings give additional weight to the evidence already suggesting that eating red and processed meat may negatively impact health and lifespan,” he said.