Red meat is defined as any meat that comes from mammalian muscle.
It is not only the health benefits associated with plant-based diets that are steering us away from red meat, however but the health risks that might arise from eating red meat. We take a look at what some of these risks are.
When it comes to red meat intake, cancer is perhaps the most well-established health implication.
In October 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report concluding that red meat is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” meaning that there is some evidence that it can increase the risk of cancer.
Additionally, the WHO concluded that processed meats – defined as “meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation” – is “carcinogenic to humans,” meaning that there is sufficient evidence that processed meat intake increases cancer risk.
Kidney failure – whereby the kidneys are no longer able to filter waste products and water from the blood – is estimated to affect more than 661,000 people in the U.S.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are among the most common causes of kidney failure, but in July 2016, one study suggested that red meat intake might be a risk factor.
Published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, the study reported a dose-dependent link between red meat consumption and risk of kidney failure. For example, participants who were in the highest 25 percent of red meat intake were found to have a 40 percent increased risk of kidney failure, compared with those in the lowest 25 percent.
Heart disease remains the number one killer in the U.S., responsible for the deaths of around 610,000 people in the country every year.
An unhealthful diet, high in saturated fat and cholesterol, is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. A number of studies have suggested that red meat falls into that category, raising the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions.
Diverticulitis is a condition whereby inflammation occurs in one or more of the sacs that line the wall of the colon, which is called diverticula.
This inflammation can lead to a number of severe complications, including abscesses, perforation of the colon, and peritonitis (infection and swelling in the lining of the abdomen).
While the specific causes of diverticulitis are unclear, it has been suggested that a high-fiber diet can raise the risk of developing the condition.
Earlier this month, a study published in the journal Gut suggested that eating high amounts of red meat may also increase the likelihood of developing diverticulitis.