Can Red Meat Increase the Risk of Heart Disease or Cancer?


Composite image by author.

Makayla Parker, Health Editor

Here’s a question not many people tend to think of, does red meat increase the risk of heart disease or cancer? Well, if you are looking for a reason to go vegetarian or vegan, there are recent studies from National Institutes of Health (sponsored by AARP) which show that people who eat regularly red meat are increasing their risk of dying sooner.

People who ate around four ounces of red meat a day increase their risk but, if you eat around half an ounce a day, you’re fine.

What increases the risk in heart disease or cancer? Well, some red meats are high in saturated fat. High saturated fat increases your blood cholesterol, which if it gets too high, it can increase our risk of developing blocked arteries that lead to heart attacks and strokes. If you’ve taken Health class here at IRHS, you should know we’re not supposed to exceed 300 mg of cholesterol per day.

Sometimes even the way the meat is cooked, can cause an increased risk of cancer; certain chemicals that form when the meat is charred (like on a grill) are linked to tumor formation in some studies.

While those were the disadvantages of red meat, there are some advantages. Such as high iron, some teenage girls or women may lack iron, so their doctor will recommend them to eat certain foods, red meat being one of them, to increase their iron levels and set them back to normal.

Red meat also has vitamin b12, helps with your nervous system and to keep blood cells healthy.

So, while there are advantages and disadvantages of red meat, it does increase the risk of heart disease and cancer if you are eating around four ounces a day. If this sounds like you or you’re eating more than that, this author recommends to set proportions each day for your meals.

As long as it isn’t fried, your Thanksgiving turkey is much healthier than a steak.