Study: Eating large amounts of red meat could shorten life

FRESNO, Calif.

Researchers at Harvard University say red meat can increase your risk of premature death.

ABC News chief health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser, talked to Action News about the study and its startling claims.

"Those people who ate the most red meat had a 12% increased chance of dying during the study period compared to those people who ate smaller amounts of red meat," Besser said. "We know that red meat is directly linked to the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, like colon cancer."

But getting burger and steak-loving Americans to change their eating habits would be a challenge.

Action News contacted Valley-based Harris Ranch and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Both called the Harvard research an "observational" study which did not show cause and effect.

Brad Caudill, vice president of marketing at Harris Ranch's Selma office, defended the benefits of beef.

"There's still much scientific evidence out there that supports the role of beef in a healthy diet," he said. "Beef gives us a lot of nutrients to the body. Nutrients to the brain, the heart and the digestive function of the body."

The Harvard study goes on to warn against eating processed meat such as hotdogs, packaged lunchmeat and bacon.

"They found there was an increased risk from processed meat and that may be from the nitrites or nitrates that are in there so you want to limit your consumption of processed meats," Besser said.

But Dr. Besser also says it's not all or nothing. You can still enjoy your favorite meaty meals, just in moderation.

"A goal would be not to have more than 2 servings of red meat a week," Besser said.

Health experts also advise mixing moderation with variation with the type of meat you eat, adding fish, chicken and more plant protein to your plate: more food for thought as no doubt, more studies will aim to alter the way we eat.

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