Should we all be cutting back on red meat?
Evidence is accumulating that a high intake of both processed and unprocessed red meat is associated with higher mortality from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, as well as hepatic, renal and respiratory disease. Although our closest primate relatives, such as gorillas and chimpanzees, are primarily vegetarian, humans have a long history of meat consumption. However, in most ancient agricultural societies meat was eaten only once per week, with an intake rarely more than 5-10kg per year. Current average meat consumption in developed and rapidly developing counties is now more than 10 times greater than that at 110-120kg per person per year, and sometimes considerably more than that.
The increased mortality risk is linked to excessive nitrate and heam iron intake, but other factors, such as the increased consumption of both saturated fat and N-nitroso compounds, as well as cooking-related carcinogens, may also play a role.
The question is whether we, and indeed all our patients, should be cutting back on red meat. What are your views? Do add your comments to this blog.