If you want to live longer, read this carefully. Researchers have found that eating two servings of red meat, processed meat or poultry -- but not fish -- per week was linked to a three to seven per cent higher risk of cardiovascular disease and three per cent higher risk of all causes of death.
After a controversial study last fall recommending that it was not necessary for people to change their diet in terms of red meat and processed meat, a large analyzed new study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, links red and processed meat consumption with a slightly higher risk of heart disease and death.
"It''s a small difference, but it''s worth trying to reduce red meat and processed meat like pepperoni, bologna and deli meats. Red meat consumption also is consistently linked to other health problems like cancer," said study senior author Norrina Allen from Northwestern University in the US.
The new study pooled together a large diverse sample from six cohorts, included long follow-up data up to three decades, harmonized diet data to reduce heterogeneity, adjusted a comprehensive set of confounders and conducted multiple sensitivity analyses.
The study included 29,682 participants (mean age of 53.7 years at baseline, 44.4 per cent men and 30.7 per cent non-white). According to the researchers, diet data were self-reported by participants, who were asked a long list of what they ate for the previous year or month.
The study found three to seven per cent higher risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death for people who ate red meat and processed meat two servings a week. A four per cent higher risk of cardiovascular disease for people who ate two servings per week of poultry, but the evidence so far is not sufficient to make a clear recommendation about poultry intake.
And the relationship may be related to the method of cooking the chicken and consumption of the skin rather than the chicken meat itself, the study said. Researchers found no association between eating fish and cardiovascular disease or mortality.
Fried chicken, especially deep fat-fried sources that contribute trans-fatty acids, and fried fish intake have been positively linked to chronic diseases, according to the study.
"Modifying intake of these animal protein foods may be an important strategy to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death at a population level," said study lead author Victor Zhong.