Whether you turn to red meat as a source of iron or you're simply one of those steak-and-potatoes kind of people, a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reveals that you might want to consider getting your fill of protein and iron elsewhere.
Most of us are aware that red meat is high in fat, which can lead to heart disease if we're not careful, but what many may not realize is that the iron-rich protein source can also be linked to cancer. Part of that is due to the increased exposure to iron, but it's also the process of cooking red meat, which can release potentially cancer-causing chemical compounds called nitrosamines, reports Time.
According to the study, led by An Pan at the Harvard School of Public Health, we can now put numbers on exactly how detrimental to our health red meat can be. Moreover, replacing it with chicken, fish, nuts and whole grains can make a world of difference.
So what are the numbers? The study, 22 years in the making, tracked the eating habits and health conditions of 121,000 health professionals. Researchers found that an additional deck-of-cards-sized serving of red meat a day contributed to a 13 per cent increased risk of dying, reports Time. Make that a serving of processed red meat, like a hot dog or some bacon, and the chance of dying during the study period went up to a shocking 20 per cent. Eating one serving of red meat each day, on average, boosted the risk of death from cancer by 13 per cent and increased the risk of death from heart disease by approximately 19.5 per cent.
Researchers made sure to consider other risk factors, such as age, family health history and body mass index, for a balanced analysis, reports the Toronto Star.