Red Meat Bleeds, White Meat Saves

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Excessive red meat consumption has been associated with an increased prevalence of both cancer and heart disease, particularly in those with poor blood sugar regulation (diabetes); however, smaller amounts of red meat have very little association with either, and white meat consumption appears alongside favorable health outcomes.

“Dietary habits play a substantial role for increasing or reducing cancer risk. We performed a critical review of scientific literature, to describe the findings of meta-analyses that explored the association between meat consumption and cancer risk. Overall, 42 eligible meta-analyses were included in this review, in which meat consumption was assumed from sheer statistics. Convincing association was found between larger intake of red meat and cancer, especially with colorectal, lung, esophageal and gastric malignancies. Increased consumption of processed meat was also found to be associated with colorectal, esophageal, gastric and bladder cancers. Enhanced intake of white meat or poultry was found to be negatively associated with some types of cancers. Larger beef consumption was significantly associated with cancer, whereas the risk was not increased consuming high amounts of pork. Our analysis suggest increased risk of cancer in subjects consuming large amounts of red and processed meat, but not in those with high intake of white meat or poultry.”
“Growing evidence suggests that effects of red meat consumption on coronary heart disease (CHD) and type 2 diabetes could vary depending on processing. We reviewed the evidence for effects of unprocessed (fresh/frozen) red and processed (using sodium/other preservatives) meat consumption on CHD and diabetes. In meta-analyses of prospective cohorts, higher risk of CHD is seen with processed meat consumption (RR per 50 g: 1.42, 95 %CI = 1.07–1.89), but a smaller increase or no risk is seen with unprocessed meat consumption. Differences in sodium content (~400 % higher in processed meat) appear to account for about two-thirds of this risk difference. In similar analyses, both unprocessed red and processed meat consumption are associated with incident diabetes, with higher risk per g of processed (RR per 50 g: 1.51, 95 %CI = 1.25–1.83) versus unprocessed (RR per 100 g: 1.19, 95 % CI = 1.04–1.37) meats. Contents of heme iron and dietary cholesterol may partly account for these associations. The overall findings suggest that neither unprocessed red nor processed meat consumption is beneficial for cardiometabolic health, and that clinical and public health guidance should especially prioritize reducing processed meat consumption.”
Red meat has been associated for a long time to an increased the risk of CVDs. However, recent findings demonstrated that despite the presence of heme iron and carnitine, red meat does not significantly increase cardiovascular risk when it is [consumed] in recommended doses. Visible fat and preservatives are the major issues in the link between red meat and increased cardiovascular risk, thus leading to a significant causal role for preserved red meats, especially if they are consumed daily. Despite some other links have been advocated, there is still debate regarding their role.”
Red meat intake was not associated with CHD (n=4 studies, RR per 100g serving/day=1.00, 95%CI=0.81–1.23,p-for-heterogeneity=0.36) or diabetes (n=5, RR=1.16, 95%CI=0.92–1.46,p=0.25). Conversely, processed meat intake was associated with 42% higher risk of CHD (n=5, RR per 50g serving/day=1.42, 95%CI=1.07–1.89,p=0.04) and 19% higher risk of diabetes (n=7, RR=1.19, 95%CI=1.11–1.27,p<0.001). Associations were intermediate for total meat intake. Red and processed meat consumption were not associated with stroke, but only 3 studies evaluated these relationships.”
“Mean meat intake in quartiles ranged from 9.9 to 97.7 g/day. After adjusting for confounders, HRs of CHD in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quartiles for meat intake compared with the 1st quartile were 2.84 (95% confidence interval 1.29-6.24, p = 0.01), 3.02 (1.36-6.70, p < 0.01), and 2.99 (1.35-6.65, p = 0.01), respectively. In two groups according to meat intake, patients [with type 2 diabetes] consuming ≥ 20 g/day of meat had a 2.94-fold higher risk of CHD than those consuming < 20 g/day (p < 0.01). There was no significant association of stroke with meat intake.”
Bronzato S, Durante A. A Contemporary Review of the Relationship between Red Meat Consumption and Cardiovascular Risk. Int J Prev Med
[Internet]. 2017 Jun 1 [cited 2018 Nov 12];8. Available from:
Horikawa C, Kamada C, Tanaka S, Tanaka S, Araki A, Ito H, et al. Meat intake and incidence of cardiovascular disease in Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes: analysis of the Japan Diabetes Complications Study (JDCS). Eur J Nutr. 2017 Dec 8;
Lippi G, Mattiuzzi C, Cervellin G. Meat consumption and cancer risk: a critical review of published meta-analyses. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2016 Jan;97:1–14.
Micha R, Michas G, Mozaffarian D. Unprocessed Red and Processed Meats and Risk of Coronary Artery Disease and Type 2 Diabetes – An Updated Review of the Evidence. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2012 Dec;14(6):515–24.
Micha R, Wallace SK, Mozaffarian D. Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Circulation. 2010 Jun 1;121(21):2271–83.

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