Last fall, a series of research papers published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that people who eat red meat are not more likely to die prematurely from heart disease or cancer than those who do not. This news stirred up a hornets’ nest of controversy. Many nutrition experts rejected the analyses that involved both randomized controlled trials and over 100 studies including six million volunteers.
How Safe Is It to Eat Red Meat?
Now, a new analysis of six studies has produced conflicting information (JAMA Internal Medicine, online Feb. 3, 2020). The investigators collected data from nearly 30,000 participants. These people provided baseline diet data and then were followed for almost 20 years.
The authors found a small association between eating more red meat, processed meat and poultry with cardiovascular disease. Fish had no impact on mortality, either positive or negative. Unlike some previous studies (Journal of Internal Medicine, Oct. 2018), this analysis detected no protective effect from eating fish.
The absolute risk difference was almost 2 percent for people who ate two servings of processed meat weekly compared to those who ate none. In other words, what researchers call the effect size was small over 30 years. People eating processed meat such as salami, bologna, bacon or ham had a higher risk of cardiovascular complications, however.
If you’d like more advice on what you should eat for better health instead of warnings on what not to eat, you might like our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. In it, we describe three different diets that have been shown in studies to have health benefits.