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  1. News Release

  2. Feb 9, 2023

‘Meat Can Break Your Heart,’ Warn Billboards From National Physicians Group

Advertisements Target States With Highest Mortality Rates for Heart Disease

WASHINGTON, D.C.—New billboards warning “Meat Can Break Your Heart” have been put up in the five U.S. states with the highest mortality rates for heart disease this American Heart Month.

Mississippi ranks first for heart disease mortality in the United States, followed by Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington, D.C.-based group with more than 17,000 doctor members, sponsored the billboards and is also urging the governors of each of those states to enact Heart Month proclamations. 

The billboards, which say, “Meat Can Break Your Heart” and refer motorists to “” to learn about the dangers of meat, are in Jackson, Miss., Oklahoma City, Okla., Montgomery, Ala., Little Rock, Ark., and Baton Rouge, La.

“Simply stated, meat can “break” your heart,” wrote Anna Herby, a registered dietitian and nutrition education program manager with the Physicians Committee in a Jan. 25, 2023, letter to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves. “Abundant research shows that consuming meat regularly increases the risk of dying from heart disease. Eating foods high in saturated fat, such as meat, raises LDL “bad” cholesterol levels, which increases heart disease risk, and research shows that both red and white meat raise cholesterol levels equally.” Herby also wrote to Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Daniel Edney. Similar letters were sent to the governors and health officers of Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Some 199,000 people in Mississippi have coronary heart disease, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. That number is 232,000 in Oklahoma, 304,000 in Alabama, 199,000 in Arkansas, and 240,000 in Louisiana.

The saturated fat in meat isn’t the only factor that increases heart disease risk. A study published last year found that as meat is digested in the intestinal tract, gut microbes produce chemicals that increase the risk for heart disease. Participants who were eating at least one serving of meat every day had a 22% higher risk of heart disease. Iron in meat is also linked to heart disease. In a meta-analysis, heme iron found in meat increased the risk of heart disease by 57%. Conversely, non-heme iron found in vegetables showed no relationship to risk or mortality from heart disease.

Plant-based diets, on the other hand, can help prevent and even reverse heart disease. A landmark 1990 study by Dean Ornish, MD, tested the effects of a plant-based diet and lifestyle intervention on participants with moderate to severe heart disease. There were no surgeries or stents—just simple diet and lifestyle changes. Within weeks, 90% of participants’ chest pain diminished. After just one month, blood flow to the heart improved. After a year, even severely blocked arteries had reopened.

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Kim Kilbride



Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

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