A study that took place over more than eight years at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School has shown that women who eat five or more servings of red meat on a weekly basis have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The 37,309 women were part of the 39,876 women who participated in the Women's Health Study, which was designed by Brigham and Women's Hospital primarily to evaluate the risks and benefits of low-dose aspirin and vitamin E in the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. The women participants were aged 45 and up, and did not originally have histories of CVD, cancer or type 2 diabetes. Red meat was defined as beef, hamburger, lamb and pork, and red processed meat as hot dogs, bacon, sausage, salami and bologna.

The women who ate the five or more servings of red meat weekly were 29% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Those who ate processed red meat five or more times weekly fared worse: they were 43% more likely to develop type 2 than women who ate only one serving weekly. The study was published in the September 2004 issue of Diabetes Care.

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