Background: Total or red meat intake has been shown to be associated with a higher risk of mortality in Western populations, but little is known of the risks in Asian populations.
Objective: We examined temporal trends in meat consumption and associations between meat intake and all-cause and cause-specific mortality in Asia.
Design: We used ecological data from the United Nations to compare country-specific meat consumption. Separately, 8 Asian prospective cohort studies in Bangladesh, China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan consisting of 112,310 men and 184,411 women were followed for 6.6 to 15.6 y with 24,283 all-cause, 9558 cancer, and 6373 cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths. We estimated the study-specific HRs and 95% CIs by using a Cox regression model and pooled them by using a random-effects model.
Results: Red meat consumption was substantially lower in the Asian countries than in the United States. Fish and seafood consumption was higher in Japan and Korea than in the United States. Our pooled analysis found no association between intake of total meat (red meat, poultry, and fish/seafood) and risks of all-cause, CVD, or cancer mortality among men and women; HRs (95% CIs) for all-cause mortality from a comparison of the highest with the lowest quartile were 1.02 (0.91, 1.15) in men and 0.93 (0.86, 1.01) in women.
Conclusions: Ecological data indicate an increase in meat intake in Asian countries; however, our pooled analysis did not provide evidence of a higher risk of mortality for total meat intake and provided evidence of an inverse association with red meat, poultry, and fish/seafood. Red meat intake was inversely associated with CVD mortality in men and with cancer mortality in women in Asian countries.