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In the March 23rd issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, a report was published showing that increased intake of red meat and processed meat was correlated with a modest increase in total mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality [Pub Med]. With an impressive half million subjects from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health study, risk of death was higher with each 20% increase of red meat or processed meat consumption. It should be noted that red meat consumption may have a cause/effect relationship or may just be a great surrogate marker for poor diet and lifestyle habits. Along with each increasing quintile of red meat consumption was a decrease in consumption of white meat (poultry and fish), fiber, fruits, vegetables and vitamin supplements. The highest 20% of red meat consumers were 2-3 times more likely to be current smokers and half as likely to be involved in vigorous exercise than the lowest 20% of red meat consumers. Interestingly, those reporting the highest intake of red meat consumed the least amount of alcohol (anybody have a clue why this would be?). Knowing how much red and processed meat you consume may be an accurate gauge as to your overall lifestyle health patterns.

Source: A prospective study of meat, cooking methods, meat mutagens, heme iron and lung cancer risks. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jun;89(6):1884-94.

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