Associations of unprocessed and processed meat intake with mortality and cardiovascular disease in 21 countries [Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) Study]: a prospective cohort study.Am J Clin Nutr. 2021 09 01; 114(3):1049-1058.AJ
Dietary guidelines recommend limiting red meat intake because it is a major source of medium- and long-chain SFAs and is presumed to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Evidence of an association between unprocessed red meat intake and CVD is inconsistent.
The study aimed to assess the association of unprocessed red meat, poultry, and processed meat intake with mortality and major CVD.
The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) Study is a cohort of 134,297 individuals enrolled from 21 low-, middle-, and high-income countries. Food intake was recorded using country-specific validated FFQs. The primary outcomes were total mortality and major CVD. HRs were estimated using multivariable Cox frailty models with random intercepts.
In the PURE study, during 9.5 y of follow-up, we recorded 7789 deaths and 6976 CVD events. Higher unprocessed red meat intake (≥250 g/wk vs. <50 g/wk) was not significantly associated with total mortality (HR: 0.93; 95% CI: 0.85, 1.02; P-trend = 0.14) or major CVD (HR: 1.01; 95% CI: 0.92, 1.11; P-trend = 0.72). Similarly, no association was observed between poultry intake and health outcomes. Higher intake of processed meat (≥150 g/wk vs. 0 g/wk) was associated with higher risk of total mortality (HR: 1.51; 95% CI: 1.08, 2.10; P-trend = 0.009) and major CVD (HR: 1.46; 95% CI: 1.08, 1.98; P-trend = 0.004).
In a large multinational prospective study, we did not find significant associations between unprocessed red meat and poultry intake and mortality or major CVD. Conversely, a higher intake of processed meat was associated with a higher risk of mortality and major CVD.