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Doctors on call: Killer red meats

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A two-decade Harvard study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine involving 121 342 men and women strongly suggests red meat consumption will increase the risk of developing cancer and heart disease.

There were 23 926 total deaths in the group with 5 910 from cardiovascular disease and 9 464 from cancer.

It was found people who ate large quantities of red meat were less active, had higher body mass indexes and were more likely to smoke.

The study stated that with every three ounces of red meat consumed the overall risk of dying increased 12%.

The increased risk of cardiovascular events has been linked to the consumption of processed red meats such as lunch meats, ham and bacon.

A recent ground breaking study found similar findings that increased the risk of the most deadly form of cancer pancreatic cancer by 20%.
Processed red meats contain high amounts of saturated fat, sodium and nitrites.

Processing commonly adds artificial flavours, colourings and preservatives to the meat that has been found to be the missing link.

Statistical analysis suggests a 9,3% reduction in death would have occurred if people in the study consumed half as much processed red meats.
Dr Frank B Hu, a professor at Harvard University said when you have these numbers in front of you, its pretty staggering.

Hu recently published a similar study in the journal Circulation which highlighted additional risks of the development of heart and cardiovascular disease.
It was found men who drank sugary or artificial sweetened beverages daily to have a 20% higher risk of heart disease.

The determining cause of the increased risk included higher levels of inflammation and triglycerides, both known to cause disease.
Heart disease is one of the leading disease killers around the world.

Risk factors of developing heart disease includes lack of exercise, poor dietary choices, smoking, obesity and diabetes.

Heart disease, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol is not caused by a lack of medication, its caused by a lack of good choices.

Reduce your risk, live longer
The British Heart Foundation said red meat could still be consumed as part of a healthy diet.
The key factor that determines if the red meat is safe for consumption is the amount of processing.
An all-natural steak with no added flavourings and preservatives will be a healthier alternative to convenience processed foods.

The recommendation is to eliminate all processed red meats and exchange them for fish, chicken and other lean meats.

The consumption of nuts such as almonds and walnuts is another safe alternative that is an excellent snack substitution.

One of the most important dietary improvements is the elimination of sugar. The elimination of sugar will reduce inflammation and triglycerides levels in the body.

These two factors are the leading cause of heart disease and premature death. It is important to eat healthy fruits and vegetables.

However, it is very common for individuals to consume more fruits versus vegetables.
Fruits are sweeter and have higher sugar content than vegetables.

Vegetables have higher nutrient value and larger amounts of fibre that will specifically reduce triglyceride levels and inflammation.

This is a reader directed column.
Please email oncallaccess@gmail.com for further topics and questions.

Doctors On Call has been selected to improve healthcare education throughout regions of Africa by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Visit www.gatesfoundation.org

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