Red meat increases risk of death from cancer

Cutting back on steak, pork, and sausages could help prolong your life. That’s the conclusion of the most comprehensive study done on the subject.

Researchers tracked half a million Americans over 50 for a decade. They found that eating the equivalent of a quarter-pound hamburger daily gave men and women a much higher risk of dying, particularly from heart disease and cancer, compared with those who ate less than an ounce of red meat a day.

There were similar results for people who eat a lot of processed meats. On the other hand, eating white meat and fish seemed to have a protective effect.

The numbers are sobering. The study says decreasing meat consumption to the equivalent of a quarter of a small burger a day could have prevented eleven per cent of deaths in men and more than 16 per cent of deaths in women.

But these scientists are not saying we should become vegetarians. They wrote an accompanying editorial in the Archives of Internal Medicine arguing that people shouldn’t stop eating meat altogether because there are some nutritional benefits and its consumption has played an important role in the evolution of our species. The bottom line: cut back instead of cutting it out.

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