Health risks of consuming red meats

Studies examining the health risks of consuming red and processed meats have yielded conflicting results, yet current US dietary guidelines recommend limiting the intake of these foods to one serving per week.

A new meta-analysis supports that recommendation, suggesting that greater consumption of processed meat, unprocessed red meat, and, unexpectedly, poultry - but not fish - is significantly associated with a small increased risk of incident cardiovascular disease (CVD), which included cardiovascular deaths.

Moreover, the large six-cohort study finds that a higher intake of processed meat and unprocessed red meat, but not poultry or fish, significantly correlates with a small increase in the risk of all-cause mortality.

The analysis reports increased relative risks for these associations ranging from approximately 3% to 7% and increased absolute risks of less than 2% during a follow-up period that lasted up to 30 years.

However the best path forward is not to pursue more trials but to use modern techniques such as metabolomics and microbiome analysis to understand why these meats promote disease and mortality.