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Red Meat, Processed Meat Linked to Diabetes Risk

Red Meat, Bacon, Hot Dogs May Increase Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Less Red Meat on the Plate continued...

Instead, “load your plate with healthy sources of protein, such as low-fat dairy, whole grains, and poultry and fish,” Hu says. “Your dietary pattern has to change from a red meat-based diet to a more diverse protein-based diet.”

Red and processed meats have also been linked to heart disease and certain cancers, he says.

The new report included data on 37,083 men who were followedfor 20 years in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study; 79,570 women who were followed for 28 years in the Nurses’ Health Study I; and 87,504 women who were followed for 14 years in the Nurses’ Health Study II.

The researchers also conducted an updated literature review analysis including data from the new study and previous studies which included 442,101 participants, 28,228 of whom developed type 2 diabetes during the study.

John Buse, MD, PhD, chief of endocrinology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, says the effect sizes seen in the new study are very small. “So, the population attributable risk for eating [3.5 ounces] of red meat would be small if the hypothesis is true,” he tells WebMD via email.

Buse is not changing his diet recommendations based on the new findings. The best diet for people with or at risk for diabetes is individualized, and artery-clogging saturated fat should comprise less than 7% of total calories, he says.

The new study is "interesting and thought provoking," says Jennifer B. Green, MD, an endocrinologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

"It is safe to say that people who eat more red meat in general probably exhibit other dietary and physical activity behaviors that predispose them to the development of type 2 diabetes," she says. "We don't know that reducing red meat, in isolation, will be of benefit, but it is something to think about along with more global changes in diet and weight loss.” 

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