Meat Linked with a Higher Risk of Death Compared to Fruits and Vegetables

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The largest study to examine the effects of different sources of dietary protein found that a high intake of proteins from animal sources – particularly processed and unprocessed red meats – was associated with a higher mortality rate, while a high intake of protein from fruit and vegetable sources was associated with a lower risk of death. Results from the study – which analyzed data from two long-term epidemiological studies – appears in the August 1 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study analyzes data from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS), which compiled health data for more than 170,000 participants since the 1980s. In addition to filling-out health surveys every couple of years, participants provide data regarding their dietary consumption.

The researchers analyzed over 30 years of data for the NHS participants and 26 years of data for HPFS participants, which totaled over 3.5 million person-years. During the time period of the study, over 36,000 deaths were recorded with 9,000 from heart disease, 13,000 from cancer and roughly 14,000 from other reasons. After adjustments were made for lifestyle behavior and other dietary risks, a large consumption of protein that come from animal sources, such as all meat, seafood, poultry, eggs or dairy were associated with an increased occurrence of death. In contrast, the large consumption of protein from plant sources, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, cereals, beans, nuts and legumes are associated with a lower mortality rate.

More careful analysis revealed that the association of animal protein intake with an elevated mortality risk only applied to participants with at least one factor associated with an unhealthy lifestyle – being either obese or underweight, heavy alcohol consumption, a history of smoking, or physical inactivity. In fact, the association disappeared in participants with a healthy lifestyle. Analysis based on specific sources of protein indicated that the animal-protein-associated mortality risk applied primarily to processed and unprocessed red meats, which include both beef and pork products, and not to protein from fish or poultry.

Article Source: MedicalXpress

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