Red meat and processed meat consumption and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis

Am J Epidemiol. 2014 Feb 1;179(3):282-9. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwt261. Epub 2013 Oct 22.


High consumption of red meat and processed meat has been associated with increased risk of several chronic diseases. We conducted a meta-analysis to summarize the evidence from prospective studies on red meat and processed meat consumption in relationship to all-cause mortality. Pertinent studies were identified by searching PubMed through May 2013 and by reviewing the reference lists of retrieved articles. Prospective studies that reported relative risks with 95% confidence intervals for the association of red meat or processed meat consumption with all-cause mortality were eligible. Study-specific results were combined by using a random-effects model. Nine prospective studies were included in the meta-analysis. The summary relative risks of all-cause mortality for the highest versus the lowest category of consumption were 1.10 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.98, 1.22; n = 6 studies) for unprocessed red meat, 1.23 (95% CI: 1.17, 1.28; n = 6 studies) for processed meat, and 1.29 (95% CI: 1.24, 1.35; n = 5 studies) for total red meat. In a dose-response meta-analysis, consumption of processed meat and total red meat, but not unprocessed red meat, was statistically significantly positively associated with all-cause mortality in a nonlinear fashion. These results indicate that high consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, may increase all-cause mortality.

Keywords: diet; meat; meta-analysis; mortality; prospective studies.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • China / epidemiology
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Diet / mortality*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Meat / adverse effects*
  • Meat Products / adverse effects
  • Models, Statistical
  • Risk
  • Swine
  • United States / epidemiology