Consuming meat increases the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia, and several other conditions, according to a study published in BMC Medicine. Researchers compared meat intake with adverse health outcomes, including hospitalization and mortality, using data from the UK Biobank study. Those who ate meat three times a week or more had worse health outcomes when compared to those who ate less meat. Results showed higher risks for ischemic heart disease, pneumonia, diverticular disease, colon polyps, and diabetes for every 70 grams of red and processed meat consumed per day. Higher intake of poultry was associated with increased risk for gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastritis and duodenitis, diverticular disease, gallbladder disease, and diabetes. Possible mechanisms for the increased risk for disease include higher intakes of sodium, iron, nitrates and nitrites, bacteria, and saturated fat from consuming meat and higher LDL cholesterol levels and changes in gut microbiota associated with meat consumption. The authors call for additional research on the effects of disease incidence with decreased meat consumption.
Papier K, Fensom GK, Knuppel A, et al. Meat consumption and risk of 25 common conditions: Outcome-wide analyses in 475,000 men and women in the UK Biobank study. BMC Med. 2021;19(1):53-67. doi: 10.1186/s12916-021-01922-9