Red Meat Consumption and the Risk of Stroke: A Dose-Response Meta-analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies

J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2016 May;25(5):1177-1186. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2016.01.040. Epub 2016 Feb 27.


Background: Prospective studies of red meat consumption and risk of stroke have provided inconsistent results. We aimed to assess this association by conducting a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.

Methods: Relevant studies were identified by searching PubMed and EMBASE through April 1, 2013. Summary relative risks (RR) and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated by random-effect or fixed-effect models.

Results: Seven prospective cohort studies were included in the analyses, involving 2,079,236 subjects and 21,730 strokes cases. Total red meat consumption was associated with total stroke (RR = 1.14, 95% CI 1.05-1.24), cerebral infarction (RR = 1.13, 95% CI 1.0-1.28), and ischemic stroke (RR = 1.22, 95% CI 1.01-1.46). A significant association was found between consumption of processed red meat and total stroke (RR = 1.17, 95% CI 1.09-1.27). Consumption of fresh red meat was significantly associated with total stroke (RR = 1.13, 95% CI 1.04-1.22) and ischemic stroke (RR = 1.15, 95% CI 1.03-1.29). However, no evidence suggests that any type of meat was associated with hemorrhagic stroke. Also, no association was found between consumption of processed red meat and ischemic stroke (RR = 1.15, 95% CI .98-1.36) and between consumption of fresh red meat and cerebral infarction (RR = 1.06, 95% CI [.94, 1.20]). A significant risk for total stroke could be observed when the consumption of total red meat was above 50 g/day, processed red meat was just above 0 g/day, and fresh red meat was above 70 g/day.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that high consumption of red meat, especially processed red meat, will increase the risk of stroke.

Keywords: Meat; dose–response; meta-analysis; prospective studies; stroke.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Humans
  • Meat Products / adverse effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Red Meat / adverse effects*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Stroke / epidemiology*