Two more studies were just released that puts red meat in the hot seat ” again. The National Institutes of Health”AARP Diet and Health Study reinforces what previous studies had already confirmed. Too much of a good thing is bad for you. In this case, it’s red meat.
This is the biggest and highest quality study on this significant and always controversial issue. The results were published in last month’s Archives of Internal Medicine. Researcher Rashmi Sinha from the National Cancer Institute and her team concluded that people who consume high amounts of red and processed meats have an increased risk of death from cancer and heart disease. “For red meat, there was an increased risk of around 31 percent of total mortality in men and 36 percent in women,” she says. “We looked at red meat, which included beef and pork; white meat, which is poultry and fish; and processed meat, which included cold cuts and luncheon meats, hot dogs and bacon,”Sinha says.
She suggests that the fat content and heavy iron concentration in red and processed meats, along with high-temperature cooking methods that can lead to the development of carcinogens, may increase the risk for disease and death. In contrast, the study found that higher white-meat consumption was associated with a lower risk of death.
Previous studies found that people who eat large amounts of red meat are more likely to develop colon cancer and cardiovascular disease, so the latest results add credence to these findings.
Meanwhile, if burger and steak lovers were not depressed enough, there was yet another study released with correspondingly bad news. Besides possibly killing you from heart disease, colon cancer, stroke or clogged arteries, eating too much red meat, especially early in life, has now been linked to age related macular degeneration (AMD), a serious eye disorder that leads to loss of vision and can cause total blindness.
The April issue of The American Journal of Epidemiology cites a research study where subjects were evaluated to find out their association between red meat, chicken and AMD.
The likelihood of developing AMD was 47 percent higher among people who ate red meat at least 10 times weekly, compared to those who ate it less than five times per week, even after accounting for factors that can increase the risk, such as smoking and obesity. Red meat contains compounds that could result in oxidative damage and be toxic to the retina.
Meanwhile, cattle producers find the new studies hard to swallow and some nutritionists are questioning the validity of the methodology. More research is sure to follow.
However, there is some good news coming out of all this. The negative effect of eating red and processed meat was small in comparison to other health-related factors, such as cigarette smoking and obesity.
So it’s not time to ban red meat .. at least not yet.