The Dangers of Eating Red Meat

Cherima Chungag, Here and There Editor

Juicy burgers, sizzling steaks and succulent bacon—it all sounds mouth-wateringly delicious, but it could also drive you towards the grave.

For years, doctors have advised people to reduce the amount of red meat they eat because the high fat content can lead to heart disease and diabetes and even promote the spread of certain cancers. However, new research from the Harvard School of Public Health has shown red meat to be even more deadly than expected.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, consumption of red meat can lead towards an early death, but eating other types of healthier protein, like beans, nuts, lean meats and fish can counteract the deadly effects of foods like burgers, steaks and bacon.

The lead researcher, An Pan, spent about 28 years studying over 121,000 doctors and nurses and their eating habits; approximately 20% of the participants died during this period. As Pan and his colleagues read through the data, they discovered than an additional serving of red meat a day contributed to a 13% increase in the risk of dying. An additional serving of processed red meats were shown to be even more dangerous contributing to a 20% higher risk of dying. However, Researchers also found that substituting one daily serving of red meat with healthier proteins reduced the risk of death by 7% to 19%.

“We should move to a more plant-based diet,” senior author Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, in an interview with HealthDay. “This can substantially reduce the risk of chronic disease and the risk of premature death.”

Taking part in Mercy’s Flexitarian Fridays is a great way to start incorporating less red meat in your diet, but simply doing this is not enough. While lunching in the cafeteria, try choosing healthier alternatives. Instead of eating beef burgers try chicken instead. Hold the bacon on your loaded baked potato and California Turkey Club Wrap. And use less, or even stop using, beefed-based sauces on Pasta Bar Days.