Minimal health risks associated with red meat consumption

A new study by researchers in the United States suggests that there are minimal health risks associated with the consumption of red meat.

The study comes amid years of research suggesting major links between red meat consumption and health problems like heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

In a study abstractscientists from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) said the conclusions from previous research were merely observational and unable to draw out causation convincingly.

“Previous meta-analyses evaluating the effects of red meat intake have generated mixed findings and do not formally assess evidence strength,” the study reads.

“We conducted a systematic review and implemented a meta-regression—relaxing conventional log-linearity assumptions and incorporating between-study heterogeneity—to evaluate the relationships between unprocessed red meat consumption and six potential health outcomes.

“We found weak evidence of association between unprocessed red meat consumption and colorectal cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and ischemic heart disease.”

Steven Novella, Yale neurologist and president of the New England Skeptical Society, said the health risks from regular red meat consumption are almost non-existent.

“The evidence for a direct vascular or heat risk from eating meat regularly is very low, to the point that there is probably no risk,” he said.

“There is, however, more evidence for a health risk from eating too few vegetables. That is really the risk of a high-meat diet, those meat calories are displacing vegetable calories.”

Although the study acknowledged some health risks from consuming unprocessed red meat, it said the evidence was insufficient to make general assumptions.

“While there is some evidence that eating unprocessed red meat is associated with increased risk of disease incidence and mortality, it is weak and insufficient to make stronger or more conclusive recommendations,” it reads.

“More rigorous, well-powered research is needed to better understand and quantify the relationship between consumption of unprocessed red meat and chronic disease.”

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