Meat-Heavy Diet Linked to Early Death

A recent study has shown that people who eat large amounts of red meat and processed meats are at a greater risk of early death from heart disease and cancer, according to researchers of National Cancer Institute. 

The study, which tracked the eating habits of over 500,000 Americans ages 50 to 71 over 10 years, bolsters evidence of health risks associated with diets that are loaded with red meat like hamburgers as well as processed meats such as hotdogs, bacon, and cold cuts.  According to the study, eating an equivalent of a quarter-pound hamburger a day puts men at a 22% higher risk of dying from cancer and a 27% higher risk of dying of heart disease.  Meanwhile, women who ate big amounts of red meat had a 20% higher risk of cancer death and a 50% higher risk of heart disease.

This study is also a cause of alarm for North Americans, whose daily diet is short of being called "veggie-shy carnivores:"  Bacon and eggs for breakfast, ham and cheese sandwich for snacks, subway sandwich for lunch, and porkchops for dinner.

There are many explanations as to why red meat might be unhealthy.  For instance, cooking red meat generates cancer-causing compounds; it is also high in saturated fat, which has been linked to breast and colon cancer; meanwhile, its high iron content is also believed to promote cancer.  Although often promoted as "white meat," pork is believed to increase the risk of cancer because of its iron content.  Processed meats, on the other hand, contain nitrosamines that have also been linked to cancer.

The American Meat Institute, however, dismissed the findings.  According to its spokesperson, the research was based on unreliable self-reporting by the study participants.  But the researchers were quick to point out that people do not have to become vegans instantly to be healthy.  They only advise not to eat red meat everyday.