Differences in survival associated with processed and with nonprocessed red meat consumption

Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Sep;100(3):924-9. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.086249. Epub 2014 Jul 16.


Background: High red meat consumption is associated with an increased mortality risk. This association is partly explained by the negative effect of processed meat consumption, which is widely established. The role of nonprocessed meat is unclear.

Objective: The objective was to examine the combined association of processed and nonprocessed meat consumption with survival in a Swedish large prospective cohort.

Design: In a population-based cohort of 74,645 Swedish men (40,089) and women (34,556), red meat consumption was assessed through a self-administered questionnaire. We estimated differences in survival [15th percentile differences (PDs), differences in the time by which the first 15% of the cohort died] according to levels of total red meat and combined levels of processed and nonprocessed red meat consumption.

Results: During 15 y of follow-up (January 1998 to December 2012), we documented 16,683 deaths (6948 women; 9735 men). Compared with no consumption, consumption of red meat >100 g/d was progressively associated with shorter survival--up to 2 y for participants consuming an average of 300 g/d (15th PD: -21 mo; 95% CI: -31, -10). Compared with no consumption, high consumption of processed red meat (100 g/d) was associated with shorter survival (15th PD: -9 mo; 95% CI: -16, -2). High and moderate intakes of nonprocessed red meat were associated with shorter survival only when accompanied by a high intake of processed red meat.

Conclusions: We found that high total red meat consumption was associated with progressively shorter survival, largely because of the consumption of processed red meat. Consumption of nonprocessed red meat alone was not associated with shorter survival.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01127698 NCT01127711.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat / adverse effects*
  • Meat Products / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • Registries
  • Self Report
  • Survival Analysis
  • Sus scrofa
  • Sweden / epidemiology

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01127698
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01127711