Consumption of processed meats, but not red meats, was associated with higher incidence of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes, study findings suggested.
Massachusetts-based researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the relationship between red, processed and total meat consumption and incident CHD, stroke and diabetes mellitus. They searched for any cohort study, case-control study or randomized trial that assessed this relationship in generally healthy adults. Twenty studies met the inclusion criteria, including 17 prospective cohorts and three case-control studies, totaling 1,218,380 individuals for the analysis. Of those, 23,889 had CHD, 2,280 had incidences of stroke and 10,797 had diabetes.
Red meat intake was not associated with CHD (n=4 studies; RR per 100 g serving/day=1.00; 95% CI, 0.81-1.23) or diabetes (n=5; RR=1.16; 95% CI, 0.92-1.46). In contrast, processed meat intake was associated with 42% increase in the risk for CHD (n=4; RR per 50 g serving/day=1.42; 95% CI, 1.07-1.89) and 19% increase in the risk for diabetes (n=7; RR=1.19; 95% CI, 1.11-1.27). Consumption of red and processed meat was not associated with stroke, although only three studies evaluated this relationship.
“Our findings demonstrate that consumption of processed meat in particular is associated with incidence of CHD and diabetes mellitus, highlighting the importance of separate consideration of health effects, underlying mechanisms and policy implications of different types of processed versus unprocessed foods,” the researchers concluded. “Future research should carefully distinguish between different types of meat, and policy measures for improving cardiometabolic health should focus particularly on reducing processed meat consumption, including consideration of recommendation for specific quantitative limits.”