Background/objectives: Epidemiological evidence is suggestive, but inconclusive, for an association between consumption of red and processed meat and risk of stroke. We aimed to assess this association by conducting a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.
Subjects/methods: We performed a literature search on PubMed database through June 2012 to identify prospective cohort studies of red and processed meat intake in relation to risk of stroke. Reference lists of the retrieved articles were also reviewed. Both fixed-effects and random-effects model were assumed to compute the summary risk estimates.
Results: Five large independent prospective cohort studies were identified. These studies contained a total of 2 39 251 subjects and 9593 stroke events. Comparing the highest category of consumption with lowest category, the pooled relative risks (RRs) of total stroke were 1.15 (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.05-1.25) for total meat (red and processed meat combined) (n=4), 1.09 (95% CI, 1.01-1.18) for red meat (n=5) and 1.14 (95% CI, 1.05-1.25) for processed meat (n=5); the corresponding RRs of ischemic stroke (highest vs lowest quintile) were 1.15 (95% CI, 1.04-1.28), 1.13(95% CI, 1.01-1.25) and 1.19 (95% CI, 1.08-1.31). Consumption of red and/or processed meat was not associated with hemorrhagic stroke. In the dose-response analysis, the risk of stroke increased significantly by 10% and 13% for each 100 g per day increment in total and red meat consumption, respectively, and by 11% for each 50 g per day increment in processed meat consumption.
Conclusion: Findings from this meta-analysis indicate that consumption of red and/or processed meat increase risk of stroke, in particular, ischemic stroke.