The evidence against red meat continues to increase.

In a study released earlier today it was announced that the consumption of red meat, even small amounts of it, could be hazardous to your health.

Previously, studies have examined the effects of eating moderate-to-high amounts of meat on mortality. However, the impact of consuming a small amount was never part of the focus.

Researchers at Loma Linda University Health in California aimed to address this imbalance in a new study.

“We wanted to take a closer look at the association of low intakes of red and processed meat with all-cause, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer mortality compared to those who didn’t eat meat at all,” says lead author, Saeed Mastour Alshahrani.

The team’s findings suggest that eating small amounts of red and processed meat could increase a person’s risk of death.

Researchers used data from people who took part in the Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2). Between 2002 and 2007, this cohort study recruited close to 96,000 Seventh-day Adventists living in the U.S. and Canada.

Adventists are an interesting group for scientists looking into factors relating to the diet. About half of these believers are vegetarian, and those who do choose to eat meat consume very little of it.

To see whether meat consumption had any effect on mortality, researchers analyzed two factors. The first was the cause of death of more than 7,900 Adventists over an 11-year period. The second was a dietary assessment of the same individuals using food frequency questionnaires.

The researchers noted that meat intake was low. Among the people who reported consuming meat, 90 percent ate 2 ounces or less of red meat per day.

When they evaluated the deaths, the investigators found that cardiovascular disease was responsible for almost 2,600 of them, while more than 1,800 deaths related to cancer.

The results, which feature in the journal Nutrients, showed that there was an association between the consumption of a combination of red and processed meats and a higher risk of both total and cardiovascular disease deaths. Processed meat alone did not show a similar trend.

Although the research showed a clear outcome, researchers say the study relied on questionnaires, which could cast doubt over the results because people may not recall consuming food that they eat very little of or consume irregularly.

More research is considered necessary to support the findings of this study. It is also still unclear precisely what causes red and processed meat to lead to adverse health outcomes.

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