An average of 9.5 servings of red meat per week was associated with a significant increase in heart failure risk, compared with only 1.5 servings per week, according to data from 21,120 men participating in the Physicians’ Health Study.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate the relationship between red meat consumption and HF risk in a large cohort,” state the researchers in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.
Bad press for meat products
The study is yet more bad news to the meat industry, following previous reports that consumption of red meat may increase the risk of certain cancers. Such reports are negatively impacting on the industry, according to a recent survey commissioned by the World Cancer Research Fund that found that over 10 per cent of people have tried to cut down on processed meat intake.
The survey was commissioned one year after the fund published a report that claimed that eating 150g of processed meat a day increased the risk of bowel cancer by 63 per cent.
Led by Dr Luc Djoussé from Division of Aging, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the researchers analysed data from seemingly healthy men with an average age of 54.6. Crunching the numbers revealed that men with the highest average intake of red meat (almost 10 servings per week) were at a 24 per cent higher risk of heart failure than men with the lowest average weekly intakes.
Commenting on the potential mechanism, the researchers note that the saturated fat and cholesterol content of red meat may increase the risks of both high blood pressure (hypertension) and coronary heart disease, both of which are risk factors for heart failure.
“Further examination underlying mechanisms and of the relationship between red meat consumption and incident heart failure in the general population is warranted,” they concluded.
Source: Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2010.03.009
“Red meat consumption and risk of heart failure in male physicians”
A. Ashaye, J. Gaziano, L. Djoussé