Feature

Health scare of the week: More perils of red meat

A new Harvard study shows that eating just one serving of red meat per day may dramatically increase your risk of premature death.

A new Harvard study shows that eating just one serving of red meat per day may dramatically increase your risk of premature death, especially from heart disease and cancer. Researchers tracked the diets of some 120,000 people over more than 20 years and found that those who daily consumed a 3-ounce portion of red meat—such as a steak the size of a deck of cards—were 13 percent more likely to die in that period than those who didn’t. Eating processed meat, like bacon and sausage, raised that risk by 20 percent. “When you have these numbers in front of you, it’s pretty staggering,” study author Frank Hu tells The New York Times. Previous research has suggested that processed meats may increase a person’s odds of developing cancer and diabetes, but the current study also calculated how much replacing a serving of any red meat with another food can improve health. People who substituted poultry or whole grains, for instance, reduced their risk of death by 14 percent; substituting nuts reduced the risk by 19 percent. To avoid “premature death,” Hu says, switch to “a more plant-based diet” and eat no more than three servings of red meat per week.

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