Meat Eaters Die Years Earlier Than Vegetarians

May 6, 2016
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick

“Physicians should advise patients to limit animal products when possible and consume more plants than meat,†a team of doctors from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona announced in a statement.

“Physicians should advise patients to limit animal products when possible and consume more plants than meat,” a team of doctors from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona announced in a statement.

If bacon, sausage, ham, or other red or processed meats are in your daily diet, it could be time to rethink your menu. The Mayo team’s analysis, which included information on 1.5 million people, fortifies the importance of a healthy diet. The researchers found that people who eat meat — especially red or processed varieties – have higher all-cause mortality.

“This data reinforces what we have known for so long — your diet has great potential to harm or heal,” Brookshield Laurent, DO, assistant professor of family medicine and clinical sciences at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, said in the news release.

For the study, published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, the physicians evaluated six studies that focused on mortality from meat and vegetarian diets. For periods ranging from 5.5 to 28 years, more than one million participants in the US and Europe were followed. Data was gathered on intake on processed meats (like bacon, sausage, salami, hot dogs, and ham) and unprocessed meats (like uncured, unsalted beef, pork, lamb, and game).

  • Related: Meat Lovers Beware: Processed Meats Linked to Cancer

A significant finding here was that those who followed a vegetarian diet for more than 17 years (compared to short-term adherence) had a 3.6-year increase in life expectancy.

The results differed a little bit between American and European participants. But one thing that held true is that there was a steep rise in mortality even with the smallest increase of red meat intake. In addition, the risks of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer were statistically significant in those who ate red or processed meats, but not white.

The researchers noted that a 500,000-person study conducted in 2003 revealed a 25% to almost 50% decrease in all-cause mortality with a very low meat intake — when compared to a higher meat intake.

“This clinical-based evidence can assist physicians in counseling patients about the important role diet plays, leading to improved preventive care, a key consideration in the osteopathic philosophy of medicine,” Laurent said.

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