Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that "various studies have suggested that higher levels of consumption of red and processed meat is associated with higher risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and premature death."
However, the results have not always been consistent, and some earlier studies have suggested there may be differences in health risk between unprocessed red meat and processed meat, he said. More study is needed to verify the link and explore the mechanisms behind it, Fonarow said.
Although unprocessed red meat might not increase the risk for heart disease or diabetes, it might increase the risk for some cancers, according to a 2007 report from researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
They found elevated risks for colorectal and lung cancer with high consumption of both processed and unprocessed meats, along with borderline higher risks for advanced prostate cancer. High intake of red meat was also associated with an increased risk for esophageal and liver cancer and a borderline increased risk for laryngeal cancer. And high consumption of processed meat was linked to a borderline increased risk for bladder cancer and myeloma, a kind of bone cancer.
For more on heart disease, visit the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Renata Micha, R.D., Ph.D., research fellow, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., dietitian, nutritionist and exercise physiologist, Fairfield, Conn.; Gregg Fonarow, M.D., professor, cardiovascular medicine, University of California, Los Angeles; March 5, 2010, presentati
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