A new study found that eating red and processed meat increases the risk of heart disease. The study, completed by researchers at the University of Oxford, is the largest ever analysis of its kind.
Researchers at Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Population Health analyzed data from 13 cohort studies. In doing so, they tracked the health of more than 1.4 million people for up to 30 years.
The analysis unveiled that eating 50g of processed meat a day increases the risk of heart disease by 18 percent. Processed meat includes bacon, sausages, salami, ham, and beef jerky, among others.
Moreover, unprocessed red meat (like beef, pork, and lamb) raises heart disease risk by 9 percent.
Anika Knüppel, a co-lead author of the study, said: “We know that meat production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and we need to reduce meat production and consumption to benefit the environment.
“Our study shows that a reduction in red and processed meat intake would bring personal health benefits too.”
In the wake of the findings, the researchers recommended eating as little red and processed meat as possible. Knüppel also urged governments to update public health guidelines to encourage people to reduce their meat intake.
Other health risks
In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) classed processed meat as a carcinogen to humans. The IARC Working Group – a cohort of scientists from around the world that evaluate carcinogenic hazards – concluded that eating processed meat causes colorectal cancer, and potentially stomach cancer.
Experts placed processed meat in the same category (IARC Group 1) as tobacco smoking and asbestos. This indicates that the evidence linking tobacco, asbestos, and processed meat to cancer is similarly strong.
WHO also announced that red meat is ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’. Evidence suggested links between red meat and colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer.
In 2019, every public school in New York City banned processed meats from being served in cafeterias. The move came about when the New York City Council passed Resolution 238, which was introduced the year prior by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Council Member Fernando Cabrera.
President Adams said at the time: “We cannot continue feeding our children substances that are scientifically proven to increase their chances of cancer later in life.”