Health And Wellness

Study links meat, including poultry, to 9 noncancerous illnesses

By Nancy Clanton, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Troy Warren for Hometown Hall 


Two years ago, researchers at the University of Oxford, University of Auckland and the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization found that eating even a moderate amount of red or processed meat increases your risk of having colon cancer.

Now, some of those same experts say eating meat regularly increases the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia and other serious illnesses.

For its new study, researchers at the University of Oxford analyzed data from 474,985 middle-age adults recruited into the UK Biobank study between 2006 and 2010 and followed up until 2017 with available information on meat intake, and linked hospital admissions and mortality data.

The Biobank is a national and international health resource with unparalleled research opportunities, open to all bona fide health researchers.

“On average, participants who reported consuming meat regularly (three or more times per week) had more adverse health behaviours and characteristics than participants who consumed meat less regularly,” the researchers wrote.

They added that higher consumption of unprocessed red and processed meat combined was associated with higher risks of ischaemic heart disease, pneumonia, diverticular disease, colon polyps and diabetes.

Eating more poultry was associated with higher risks of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, gastritis and duodenitis, diverticular disease, gallbladder disease, and diabetes.

One reason for this could be the participants’ body mass index, or BMI.

“BMI is an important risk factor for many of the diseases examined (e.g. diabetes),” the researchers wrote. “Some previous studies have found that high meat consumption is associated with weight gain, but it is unclear whether this indicates any specific impact of meat or an association in these populations of high meat intakes with high total energy intakes.”

The scientists found that for every 70 grams of unprocessed red meat and processed meat a person consumes each day, their risk of heart disease increases by 15% and risk of diabetes by 30% after taking into account physical activity, alcohol consumption, BMI and other factors.

For every 30 grams of chicken or turkey eaten daily, participants increased their risk of developing gastro-oesophageal reflux by 17% and of diabetes by 14%.

The researchers noted these adverse reactions were mostly seen in overweight and obese meat eaters.

“Differences in BMI across the categories of meat consumption appear to account for a substantial part of the increased risks,” they wrote.

The study was published in the journal BMC Medicine.