Eating meat is linked to much more common diseases than you think

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In a new study, researchers found regular meat consumption is linked to a range of diseases that researchers had not previously considered.

The results associate regular meat intake with a higher risk of various diseases, including heart disease, pneumonia and diabetes, but a lower risk of iron-deficiency anemia.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Oxford.

Previous evidence has shown that excess consumption of red meat and processed meat (such as bacon and sausages) may be linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

In the study, the team used data from almost 475,000 UK adults, who were monitored for 25 major causes of non-cancerous hospital admissions.

The team found overall, participants who consumed unprocessed red meat and processed meat regularly (three or more times per week) were more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, have overweight or obesity, and eat less fruit and vegetables, fiber, and fish.

However, after taking these factors into account, the team found higher consumption of meat was linked to higher risks of heart disease, pneumonia, diverticular disease, colon polyps, and diabetes.

For instance, every 70 g higher red meat and processed meat intake per day was linked to a 15% higher risk of heart disease and a 30% higher risk of diabetes.

Higher consumption of poultry meat was linked to higher risks of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, gastritis and duodenitis, diverticular disease, gallbladder disease, and diabetes.

Every 30g higher poultry meat intake per day was linked to a 17% higher risk of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and a 14% greater risk of diabetes.

The team also found that regular meat-eaters having a higher average body weight could be partly causing these associations.

They also found that higher intakes of unprocessed red meat and poultry meat were associated with a lower risk of iron deficiency anemia.

The risk was 20% lower with every 50g higher per day intake of unprocessed red meat and 17% lower with every 30g higher per day intake of poultry meat.

The research team suggests that unprocessed red meat and processed meat may increase the risk of heart disease because they are major dietary sources of saturated fatty acids.

These can increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, an established risk factor for heart disease.

One author of the study is Dr. Keren Papier.

The study is published in BMC Medicine.

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