March 24/Washingoton/Orlando Sentinel -- The largest study of its kind finds that older Americans who eat large amounts of red meat and processed meats face a greater risk of heart disease and cancer.
The federal study of more than half a million men and women bolsters prior evidence of the health risks of diets laden with red meat like hamburger and processed meats like hot dogs, bacon and cold cuts. The findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Over 10 years, eating the equivalent of a quarter-pound hamburger daily gave men in the study a 22% higher risk of dying of cancer and a 27% higher risk of dying of heart disease. That is compared to those who ate the least red meat, just 5oz per week. Women who ate large amounts of red meat had a 20% higher risk of dying of cancer and a 50% higher risk of dying of heart disease than women who ate less. For processed meats, the increased risks for large quantities were slightly lower overall than for red meat.
Dietitian Ceci Snyder of the National Pork Board said the study "attempts to indict all red meat consumption by looking at extremes in meat consumption."
Lean meat as part of a balanced diet can prevent chronic disease, along with exercise and avoiding smoking, said Shalene McNeill, dietitian for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
From the March 30, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition