Tuesday, March 13, 2012


In a very interesting article, Dr An Pan and colleague from the Harvard School of Public Health warn us, that eating red meat, processed, worse than unprocess increases our risk for CAD and also cancers. An extra portion of red meat can increase our CVS mortality by 16% and cancer mortality by 10%. That is a lot. How did they do it?
This study was published in the 12th March 2012 online edition of the Arch of Int Med.
Well, Dr An Pan and colleagues took data from the ongoing Health Professional Follow-up study ( HPFS ) and the Nurses Health study ( NHS ). Looked into their food records and their hospital records. In USA, their record keeping were centralised and rather accurate. All in all, there were 37,698 subjects in the HPFS and 83,644 in the NHS. After 22 years of followup of the HPFS there were 8926 deaths, of which 2716 were CVS deaths and 3076 were cancer deaths. In the NHS, the followup was 28 years. Here there were 15,000 deaths, of which 3194 were cardiac and 6391 were cancer deaths.

(Q) 1
Q2, HR (95% CI)
Q3, HR (95% CI)
Q4, HR (95% CI)
Q5, HR (95% CI)
p for trend
HR (95% CI) for each 1-serving/day increase
All-cause mortality, total red meat
1 (reference)
1.10 (1.05)
1.15 (1.06-1.26)
1.21 (1.14-1.28)
1.30 (1.18-1.43)
1.12 (1.09-1.15)
All-cause mortality, unprocessed red meat
1 (reference)
1.08 (1.05-1.12)
1.10 (1.03-1.17)
1.15 (1.05-1.25)
1.23 (1.14-1.34)
1.13 (1.07-1.20)
All-cause mortality, processed red meat
1 (reference)
1.05 (1.00-1.09)
1.11 (1.04-1.18)
1.15 (1.11-1.20)
1.32 (1.16-1.30)
1.20 (1.15-1.24)
Cardiovascular mortality, total red meat
1 (reference)
1.12 (1.03-1.22)
1.13 (1.04-1.24)
1.23 (1.13-1.34)
1.40 (1.29-1.53)
1.16 (1.12-1.20)
Cancer mortality
1 (reference)
1.05 (0.98-1.12)
1.09 (1.02-1.16)
1.16 (1.08-1.24)
1.19 (1.11-1.28)
1.10 (1.07-1.13)
*Red meat consumption in Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4, and Q4 was 0.22, 0.62, 1.01, 1.47, and 2.36 servings per day in the HPFS and 0.53, 1.04, 1.52, 2.01, and 3.10 servings per day in NHS

Basically, the more red meat, the higher the CVS and cancer risk esp processed red meat.
What then shall we eat? Looks like NO processed red meat. Non processed meat of 3 or less servings per week. Substitute white meat for red meat, especially fish and poultry. Carbohydrates in moderation and also prefer carbohydrates in the form of vegetables and fruits.

In simple words, more fruits and veges, white meat, and non processed red meat sparingly, if you wish less cancers and less cardiovascular deaths.
I think that this is an important study. There were some earlier studies that showed the same, but this is probably the biggest. Two things that I do not understand. 1. Why did the authors not have this published in the Lancet or New England Journal of Medicine? 2. What is the reason? How do we tie up caancers with red meats and fatal CVS with red meats?
Obviously, this is an observational study and more work needs by done.

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