Harvard Women's Health Watch

What's the beef with meat?

Why too many burgers and steaks might shorten your life.

Red meat isn't just a type of food—it's a deep-rooted part of our culture. Many of us were raised at a time when no dinner table was complete without a hearty portion of meat and potatoes. Every July 4th we fill our grills with hot dogs and hamburgers, and each December holiday season many of us make ham the centerpiece of our holiday meal.

Though we might love the taste of our burgers, bacon, and steaks, researchers are finding that our carnivorous habits are endangering our health. Several studies have linked diets high in red meat (which includes veal, beef, lamb, and pork) to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. A recent report by Dr. Walter Willett and his colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health went one step further, suggesting that regularly consuming red meat could even lead us to an untimely death.

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