Background and purpose: Prospective studies of red meat consumption and risk of stroke have provided inconsistent results. We performed a meta-analysis to summarize the evidence regarding the effects of red meat (fresh, processed, and total) consumption on stroke risk.
Methods: Studies were identified by searching the PubMed database through May 26, 2012, and by reviewing the reference lists of retrieved articles. Prospective studies that reported relative risks (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between red meat consumption and risk of stroke were eligible. Results were combined using a random-effects model.
Results: Five articles including results from 6 prospective studies with 10 630 cases of stroke and 329 495 participants were included in the meta-analysis. For each serving per day increase in fresh red meat, processed meat, and total red meat consumption, the RR (95% CI) of total stroke were 1.11 (1.03-1.20), 1.13 (1.03-1.24), and 1.11 (1.06-1.16), respectively, without heterogeneity among studies (P>0.16). Among 4 articles with results for stroke subtypes, the risk of ischemic stroke was positively associated with consumption of fresh red meat (RR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.00-1.27), processed meat (RR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.06-1.24), and total red meat (RR, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.05-1.19); no statistically significant associations were observed for hemorrhagic stroke.
Conclusions: Results from this meta-analysis indicate that consumption of fresh red meat and processed red meat as well as total red meat is associated with increased risk of total stroke and ischemic stroke, but not hemorrhagic stroke.