Diet wars: Heavy meat consumption carries ‘small but increased’ cardiovascular disease risk, study finds

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Image: Peter Hellberg/Flickr
[In October 2019], the Annals of Internal Medicine published a controversial report that encouraged people not to worry about the health risks of eating red and processed meat, contradicting decades of nutrition advice.

Some experts called for the paper to be retracted, while others celebrated its findings and used it to raise questions about longstanding dietary guidelines discouraging meat consumption.

On [Jan. 3], a group of prominent researchers pushed back, publishing a large study in JAMA Internal Medicine that once again highlighted the potential harms of a meat-heavy diet. The researchers analyzed data on a diverse group of thousands of people who were followed for an average of three decades. They found that people who had the highest intakes of red meat, processed meat and poultry had a small but increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

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The new findings are unlikely to settle the debate over red meat and its link to chronic disease. But they provide further evidence for experts who argue that red and processed meats contribute to the risk of heart disease, and they suggest that health authorities are unlikely to alter their recommendations to limit meat consumption.

Related article:  Plant-based Beyond Burger healthier than beef? Nutrition experts weigh in on popular meat alternative

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