New study shows that eating red meat, processed meat increases heart disease risk

A new study links consumption of red and processed meat with a higher risk of heart disease and death.

The study included data on nearly 30,000 people, who were questioned about their diet, particularly what they ate for the previous year or month.  The researchers chose these individuals from six prospective cohort studies in the United States as part of the Lifetime Risk Pooling Project. The cohorts included: the ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) study, CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) study, CHS (Cardiovascular Health Study), FHS (Framingham Heart Study), FOS (Framingham Offspring Study), and MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis).

The study found that people who ate two servings per week of red meat or processed meat had a 3% to 7% higher risk (respectively) of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, and a 3% higher risk of death from all causes. It found a 4% higher risk of cardiovascular disease for people who ate two servings per week of poultry, but the evidence was not sufficient enough to make a clear recommendation about poultry intake, the researchers said.  The study did not find an association between eating fish and cardiovascular disease or mortality.

The study, partly funded by NHLBI, appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine.