London: Consuming red meat regularly could be a passport to higher risk of death from heart disease, new research says.
The US study is among the first to link red meat to a higher risk of dying, even though it was suspected of causing health problems before.
The data, from more than 120,000 men and women who were tracked for almost 30 years, was analysed by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
Author Frank Hu, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, said: “This study provides clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death.”
Around 24,000 people died during the course of the study, and it was estimated that between 7.6 percent and 9.3 percent of those could have been avoided if everyone taking part had eaten half a helping of red meat less a day.
One helping was equated to 85 grams or roughly two slices of bacon or one sausage. A striking linkage was seen between consumption of red meat and premature death, according to the Daily Mail.
Each daily serving of unprocessed red meat, equivalent to a helping of beef, lamb or pork about the size of a deck of cards, raised the risk of death 13 percent, while processed meat increased it by 20 percent.
When deaths were broken down into specific causes, eating any kind of red meat increased the chances of dying from heart disease by 16 percent and from cancer by 10 percent.
A daily serving of unprocessed red meat raised the risk of death by 13 percent. However it remains a significant source of essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, selenium, B vitamins and vitamin D.
Processed red meat raised the risk of heart disease and cancer deaths by 21 percent and 16 percent respectively.