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Eating red meat may increase risk of cardiovascular and cancer death

March 14, 2012

A high intake of red meat may be associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, scientists say.

People who eat large quantities of red or processed meat may face an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer, new research has found.

However, this risk can be reduced by replacing these meats with healthier sources of protein such as fish or poultry, scientists say.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public health looked at long-term data on more than 37,000 men and 83,000 women who were followed for up to 28 years.

Their findings, which are published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, indicate that a higher intake of red meat was associated with a "significantly elevated risk of total, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality", the study authors revealed.

"Substitution of fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products and whole grains for red meat was associated with a significantly lower risk of mortality," they added.

The British Heart Foundation's Victoria Taylor said that the saturated fat content of red meat may be to blame for the link.

She advised people to choose leaner cuts of red meat and to use healthier cooking methods, such as grilling or baking rather than frying or roasting.

"If you eat processed meats like bacon, ham, sausages or burgers several times a week, add variation to your diet by substituting these for other protein sources such as fish, poultry, beans or lentils," the dietician added.

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