Harvard researchers: Red meat consumption tied to early death

News briefs

Published: September, 2019

We already know that a diet rich in red meat is linked to many health problems, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. Now a Harvard-led study published online June 12, 2019, by BMJ suggests that boosting your red meat intake increases your risk for early death. Scientists analyzed questionnaire answers about health and diet provided by more than 81,000 healthy men and women between 1986 and 2010. In particular, researchers looked at whether changes in red meat consumption during an eight-year period of the study affected the risk of death eight years later. The findings: An increase of just half a serving of processed red meat per day was associated with a 13% higher risk for dying young from any cause; an additional half-serving of unprocessed red meat increased the risk by 9%. On the flip side, decreasing total red meat consumption and increasing the consumption of nuts, fish, poultry without skin, dairy, eggs, whole grains, or vegetables was tied to a lower risk of death. The takeaway: Try to curb your appetite for red and processed meats like bacon, salami, and hot dogs. Eat more poultry, fish, or plant-based proteins (like beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds), along with the other components of a healthy diet.

Image: © Pavlo_K/Getty Images

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.