Red Meat and Health: Evidence Regarding Red Meat, Health, and Chronic Disease Risk

Red Meat and Health: Evidence Regarding Red Meat, Health, and Chronic Disease Risk

Kate Marsh (Northside Nutrition and Dietetics, Australia), Angela Saunders (Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing, Australia) and Carol Zeuschner (Sydney Adventist Hospital, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9553-5.ch008
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Abstract

Despite its nutritional benefits, there is an increasing body of evidence to suggest that regular consumption of red meat may negatively impact health and disease risk, including the risk of most common chronic diseases. This chapter reviews the current evidence linking red and processed meat intakes with chronic disease, obesity and mortality risks and discusses possible mechanisms to explain these associations. Research on the health benefits of diets low in red meat, including vegetarian, vegan, Mediterranean and other plant-based diets, is also reviewed.
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Background

Chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, are the leading causes of mortality, contributing to 60% of all deaths worldwide (WHO, 2014b). Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death with an estimated 17.3 million people dying from CVD in 2008 (30% of all deaths worldwide) a figure that is expected to increase to 23.3 million by 2030 (WHO, 2014b). Of these deaths, the majority were due to coronary heart disease (CHD) (7.3 million) and stroke (6.2 million). Diabetes currently affects an estimated 347 million people worldwide and in 2012 was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths (WHO, 2014c). The World Health Organisation (WHO) projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030. Cancer is also a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 8.2 million deaths in 2012, with lung, liver, stomach, colorectal and breast cancers causing the most cancer deaths each year (WHO, 2014a). The WHO estimates that annual cancer cases will rise from 14 million in 2012 to 22 million within the next two decades (WHO, 2014a).

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