Eating red meat linked to higher death risks in heart disease, stroke

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Scientists from Peking University and elsewhere found that eating red meat is linked to higher death risks in heart disease and stroke.

Heart and vascular, or cardiovascular, diseases include conditions such as heart rhythm disorders, coronary heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, congenital heart defects, vascular dementia, and stroke.

Red meat is commonly red when raw and has a dark color after it is cooked, in contrast to white meat, which is pale in color before and after cooking.

In nutritional science, red meat is defined as any meat that has more protein myoglobin than white meat. White meat is defined as non-dark meat from fish or chicken

In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the associations between red meat intake and death risk in heart disease and stroke and the effects of lifestyle and genetic risk factors.

They used data from more than 180,000 people from the UK Biobank database. These people were free of heart disease or cancer from 2006 to 2010 and followed up to 2018.

The information about their diet was collected through a single touchscreen food-frequency questionnaire.

The team calculated the genetic risk score of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), a gut microbiota metabolite from red meat.

During the 9 years of follow-up, the team found 3596 deaths.

Compared with the lowest red meat intake (< 1.5 times/week), the team found the highest red meat intake (≥ 3.0 times/week) was linked to a 20%, 53%, and 101% elevated risk for heart disease and stroke mortality.

The researchers found that the associations between red meat intake and mortality were not modified by dietary and lifestyle factors, as well as TMAO.

In addition, the team showed that a decrease in red meat intake and an increase in the intake of poultry or cereal was strongly linked to a 9%-16% lower heart disease death risk.

Based on the findings, the team suggests that red meat intake was linked to higher risks of heart disease and stroke death, and the associations were not changed by lifestyle and genetic risk factors.

Replacing red meat with poultry or cereal was related to lower risks of heart disease mortality.

The research was published in The European Journal of Nutrition and conducted by Mengying Wang et al.

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