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Increasing consumption of red and processed meat could increase the risk of mortality, according to a new study



Red meat has long been questioned because of its possible association with diseases such as cancer, especially as a result of the controversial World Health Organization report that warned of the risks of processed. Its usual consumption is not just linked to different pathologies. now A recent study warns against increasing the intake of red and processed meat It also increases the risk of mortality.

They are the conclusions of a broad research work published in The BMJ (British Medical Journal), the first study in his field as investigates the relationship between changes in consumption habits of red meat and its consequences. Starting to eat more red or processed meat would thus increase the risk in the short and long term, while reducing consumption by choosing vegetable products and white meat would extend the life span.

What if I start eating more red meat and sausages?

It is the question that led a team of researchers from the United States and China to dive into the effects these meat products have on health When there is a change in habits in the usual diet. Many studies have already linked them to the risk of suffering from diseases such as certain types of cancer, cardiovascular problems or diabetes, but it is still not known exactly how it affects the increase or decrease of consumption.

sausage Meat

For the research, they have compiled the information collected in two cohort studies: Nursing health examination (nurses between the ages of 35 and 55) and Health professional follow-up study (men from health care between 40 and 75 years), where the participants filled in questionnaire on their eating habits and lifestyle.

Eating 3.5 or more portions of red meat a week increases the risk of death by 10%

The authors have used data on 53,553 women and 27,916 men, that they did not have cardiovascular disease or cancer when they began the studies, even exclusively those with an excessive calorie diet. Thus, dietary habits have been analyzed for periods of eight years and their relationship to mortality over the following eight years, from 1986 to 2010.

The most common causes of deaths identified during this subsequent eight-year period were related to cardiovascular problems, cancer, respiratory and neurodegenerative diseases.

Super meat

After adapting various factors that can affect the results, the researchers state that an increase of 3.5 or more portions of red meat (processed and unprocessed) per week is associated with an increase in the risk of death by 10%. If we limit ourselves to an increase in processed red meat (sausage, sausage, bacon …) the risk increases to 13%, while unprocessed red meat is associated with 9%.

The opposite effect: less red meat and more lean proteins and vegetables can prolong life

In general, regardless of other factors such as age, physical activity or consumption of alcohol and tobacco, work to reduce the intake of red and processed meat ends for the benefit of other healthier foods (Whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins such as eggs, fish or poultry without skin) are associated with a lower risk of death.

Red meat

For example, just replacing a daily serving of red meat with fish would only achieve eight years reduce the risk of death by 17% in the following years. The results are applicable both in the short and long term, both in men and women.

Even though it is one observational which does not allow to create causal effect relationships, the researchers emphasize that the breadth of the information collected and the results in the consequences gives a clear message to the general population: increasing or decreasing consumption of red and processed meat directly affects health.

the conclusion The authors are clear and powerful:

A change in protein sources or eating more healthy plant foods such as vegetables or whole grains can increase life expectancy.

It is clear that Processed meat is not the same as red meat, and not all red meat is the same or it has the same risks depending on how it is cooked. But, although it also has its nutritional benefits, the scientific evidence seems to confirm something that the WHO has been warning for some time: You have to moderate consumption.

Photos | iStock – Unsplash – Pixabay


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