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Eating red meat linked to shorter lifespan: US study
By Cherice Chen
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2012-03-13 03:08 PM
Eating a lot of red meat may shorten your life, Harvard researchers say.

For many people, red meat is a primary source of protein and fat. But meat has been associated with increased risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers in other studies, the researchers noted.

“We should move to a more plant-based diet,” said lead researcher Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. “This can substantially reduce the risk of chronic disease and the risk of premature death.”

For the study, Hu’s team collected data on more than 37,600 men who took part in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and more than 83,600 women in the Nurses’ Health Study.

Over 28 years, almost 24,000 of the study participants died. Nearly 6,000 of the deaths were from cardiovascular disease and more than 9,000 were from cancer, the researchers found.

Hu’s group calculated that for every daily serving of red meat, the risk of dying increased 12 percent. Broken down further, the researchers found the risk was 13 percent for a serving of unprocessed red meat and 20 percent for processed red meat.

A single serving is about the size of a deck of cards, Hu noted.

By replacing a daily serving of red meat with a serving of fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products or whole grains, however, the risk of dying was lowered, the researchers said.

The risk of death decreased by 7 percent for fish, 14 percent for poultry, 19 percent for nuts, 10 percent for legumes, 10 percent for low-fat dairy products and 14 percent for whole grains, the researchers found.

If people ate less than half a serving of red meat a day, deaths during the 28 years of follow-up could have been reduced by 9.3 percent for men and 7.6 percent for women, the researchers noted.

The report was published online March 12 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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