High intakes of red or processed meat has been implicated as a cause of increased risk of mortality. As a result a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (2009;169:562-571) was performed to determine the relations of red, white, and processed meat intakes to risk for total and cause-specific mortality. The study population included the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study cohort of half a million people aged 50 to 71 years at baseline. Meat intake was estimated from a food frequency questionnaire administered at baseline. The covariates included in the statistical model were age, education, marital status, family history of cancer (yes/no) (cancer mortality only), race, body mass index, 31-level smoking history, physical activity, energy intake, alcohol intake, vitamin supplement use, fruit consumption, vegetable consumption, and menopausal hormone therapy among women. Main outcome measures included total mortality and deaths due to cancer, cardiovascular disease, injuries and sudden deaths, and all other causes. Results showed that there were 47,976 male deaths and 23,276 female deaths during 10 years of follow-up. Men and women in the highest vs. lowest quintile of red and processed meat intakes had elevated risks for overall mortality. Regarding cause-specific mortality, men and women had elevated risks for cancer mortality for red and processed meat intakes. Furthermore, cardiovascular disease risk was elevated for men and women in the highest quintile of red and processed meat intakes. When comparing the highest with the lowest quintile of white meat intake, there was an inverse association for total mortality and cancer mortality, as well as all other deaths for both men and women. According to the authors, red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality.


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