Red meat, processed meat and the risk of venous thromboembolism: friend or foe?

Thromb Res. 2015 Aug;136(2):208-11. doi: 10.1016/j.thromres.2015.04.027. Epub 2015 Apr 29.


Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a highly prevalent condition worldwide, which can be triggered by a combination of inherited and acquired risk factors, including diet. Several lines of evidence suggest that consumption of red and processed meat is associated with a significant risk of colorectal cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Therefore, an electronic search was conducted to identify clinical studies investigating the potential association between the risk of venous thrombosis and consumption of red or processed meat. Seven articles were finally included in this review, 6 prospective studies and 1 case-control investigation. Taken together, the evidence of the current scientific literature suggests that whether or not a pathophysiological link may exist between red or processed meat consumption and venous thrombosis, the association is definitely weak, since it was found to be non-statistically significant in four prospective cohort studies, marginally significant in one prospective cohort study and highly significant in the remaining prospective cohort study. In the single case-control study, the risk was also found to be non-statistically significant. Although further studies will be needed to definitely establish the existence of a thrombotic risk associated with different subtypes of red or processed meat, it seems premature to conclude that a reduced consumption of red and processed meat lowers the risk of VTE.

Keywords: Deep vein thrombosis; Processed meat; Pulmonary embolism; Red meat; Venous thromboembolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Feeding Behavior
  • Humans
  • Red Meat / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Venous Thromboembolism / etiology*