Higher Intake of Processed Meat Increases Risk of Mortality and Major Cardiovascular Disease, Study Finds

According to the findings of a large multinational prospective study, consumption of unprocessed red meat and poultry does not predict mortality or major cardiovascular disease (CVD), but a higher intake of processed meat is a risk factor for increased mortality and major CVD.

Higher Intake of Processed Meat Increases Risk of Mortality and Major Cardiovascular Disease, Study Finds
Photo: Higher Intake of Processed Meat | InStyleHealth


Researchers wanted to see if there was a link between eating unprocessed red meat, poultry, and processed meat and mortality and major CVD in 134,297 people from 21 low-, middle-, and high-income nations.

The country-specific validated food frequency questionnaires were used to record food intake. Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated using multivariable Cox frailty models with random intercepts.

During the 9.5 years of follow-up, there were 7,789 deaths and 6,976 CVD events. Total mortality (HR, 0.93, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.85–1.02; ptrend=0.14) and major CVD (HR, 1.01, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.92–1.11; ptrend=0.72) were not increased by higher intake of unprocessed red meat (250 vs 50 g/wk). There was also no association between poultry intake and health findings.

Instead, higher processed meat intake (≥150 vs 0 g/wk) significantly correlated with higher risks of total mortality (HR, 1.51, 95 percent CI, 1.08–2.10; ptrend=0.009) and major CVD (HR, 1.46, 95 percent CI, 1.08–1.98; ptrend=0.004).

According to researchers that, “Dietary guidelines recommend limiting red meat intake because it is a major source of medium- and long-chain saturated fatty acids and is presumed to increase the risk of CVD.”


Source: Am J Clin Nutr 2021;114:1049-1058

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