April 16/Arlington, Va./Archives of Internal Medicine -- Eating red meat is associated with a greater risk of developing such chronic diseases as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer, but is it also associated with a higher mortality rate?

This study analyzed data on 121,342 adults, most in their late 40s to early 50s, who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at the start of the study. During a span of more than two decades, 23,926 of them died, including 5,910 from cardiovascular disease and 9,464 from cancer. Chances of dying during this time were greater for those who ate the most unprocessed red meat (such as beef, pork and lamb) and processed red meat (bacon, hot dogs, sausage, bologna). For each additional 3oz. serving daily of unprocessed red meat, overall chances of dying increased by 13%, and risk for death from cardiovascular disease rose by 18% and from cancer by 10%.

Comparable increases in consumption of processed red meat raised the overall chance of dying by 20%, with 21% and 16% increases for cardiovascular disease and cancer, respectively. Substituting one serving of red meat a day for a serving of fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products or whole grains lowered risk by 7-19%.

Data on meat consumption came from people’s responses on questionnaires. The study did not differentiate between consumption of lean and fatty red meat. Participants were mostly white, and all were health-care professionals; whether the findings apply to other groups is unclear.

 From the April 17, 2012, Prepared Foods’ Daily News