The health risks of eating red meat surfaced again in a major way last week.  Most news outlets, including Reuters, AP, U.S. News and World Report, along with NBC and CBS all ran stories on the topic.

Here is an excerpt from one of these articles which ran last week on U.S. News and World Report:

Red Meat Can Be Unhealthy, Study Suggests

Researchers contend diets laden with steaks, burgers boost death rates; beef industry disputes claim

March 12, 2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) — Eating a lot of red meat may shorten your life, while consuming more fish and poultry may extend it, a new study suggests.

Red meat is associated with a higher risk of dying from heart disease, cancer and any other cause, the researchers reported.

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For many people, red meat is a primary source of protein and fat. But meat has been associated with increased risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers in other studies, the researchers noted.

“We should move to a more plant-based diet,” said lead researcher Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. “This can substantially reduce the risk of chronic disease and the risk of premature death.”

For the study, Hu’s team collected data on more than 37,600 men who took part in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and more than 83,600 women in the Nurses’ Health Study.

Over 28 years, almost 24,000 of the study participants died. Nearly 6,000 of the deaths were from cardiovascular disease and more than 9,000 were from cancer, the researchers found.

Hu’s group calculated that for every daily serving of red meat, the risk of dying increased 12 percent. Broken down further, the researchers found the risk was 13 percent for a serving of unprocessed red meat and 20 percent for processed red meat.

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A single serving is about the size of a deck of cards, Hu noted.

By replacing a daily serving of red meat with a serving of fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products or whole grains, however, the risk of dying was lowered, the researchers said.

The risk of death decreased by 7 percent for fish, 14 percent for poultry, 19 percent for nuts, 10 percent for legumes, 10 percent for low-fat dairy products and 14 percent for whole grains, the researchers found.

If people ate less than half a serving of red meat a day, deaths during the 28 years of follow-up could have been reduced by 9.3 percent for men and 7.6 percent for women, the researchers noted.

The report was published online March 12 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

CLICK-HERE to read more, including protests from the meat industry.  No surprise there.

Would I suggest dropping all red meat from your diet?  Based on this and other comprehensive studies, it couldn’t hurt–unless you can’t or don’t replace the missing beef with other quality sources of lean protein.

Moderation is the key, right?  I eat some red and processed meat to help keep my bone marrow as strong as possible to withstand the ongoing chemotherapy that I am forced to take to help control my multiple myeloma–a type of incurable bone marrow cancer.

According to this particular study, substituting nuts as a protein source looks like to holds the least risk.  We all know that isn’t going to work on a Saturday night-out!

But I do eat lots of raw, unsalted mixed nuts.  You can find them at Target or any health food store.  Substituting chicken or fish whenever possible could help.  But both of these protein sources carry risks of their own.

So once again, eating beef or other cooked meats in moderation, concentrating on smaller servings and limiting intake of each type of meat to once or twice a week seems wise–and good for you!

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

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