regular intake of meals rich in processed red meat and sugary drinks be
the reason for reducing life span and life expectancy of Nigerians?
CHUKWUMA MUANYA writes.
THE rising incidence of cancer,
cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, stroke, and kidney failure,
especially in developing countries like Nigeria has been linked to
growing patronage for processed red meat products and sugary drinks.
Red meat, especially processed meat, contains ingredients that have
been linked to increased risk of chronic diseases, such as
cardiovascular disease and cancer. These include heme iron, saturated
fat, sodium, nitrites, and certain carcinogens that are formed during
Several researches have shown that the body may
compensate for the sugar rush of soft drinks by making its own supply of
fats, and some of these will be bad for the heart. Tests on blood
samples showed those who drank the sugary beverages tended to have
higher levels of dangerous blood fats and of proteins linked to heart
disease. Levels of ‘good’ cholesterol were lower.
A new study by
researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), United States
(U.S.), published online Tuesday in Archives of Internal Medicine, found
that red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of
total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality.
However, the results
also showed that substituting other healthy protein sources, such as
fish, poultry, nuts, and legumes, was associated with a lower risk of
Also, according to research published in Circulation,
an American Heart Association journal, men who drank a 12-ounce
sugar-sweetened beverage a day had a 20 per cent higher risk of heart
disease compared to men who didn’t drink any sugar-sweetened drinks.
prospective study of over 500,000 people published in Archives of
Internal Medicine concluded: “Red and processed meat intakes were
associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality,
and cardiovascular disease mortality.”
The study population
included the U.S. National Institutes of Health–AARP (formerly known as
the American Association of Retired Persons) Diet and Health Study
cohort of 500,000 people aged 50 to 71 years at baseline.
intake was estimated from a food frequency questionnaire administered at
baseline. Cox proportional hazards regression models estimated hazard
ratios (HRs) and 95 per cent confidence intervals (CIs) within quintiles
of meat intake. The covariates included in the models were age,
education, marital status, family history of cancer (yes/no) (cancer
mortality only), race, body mass index, 31-level smoking history,
physical activity, energy intake, alcohol intake, vitamin supplement
use, fruit consumption, vegetable consumption, and menopausal hormone
therapy among women. Main outcome measures included total mortality and
deaths due to cancer, cardiovascular disease, injuries and sudden
deaths, and all other causes.
Lead author, An Pan, research fellow
in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH said: “Our study adds more
evidence to the health risks of eating high amounts of red meat, which
has been associated with Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease,
stroke, and certain cancers in other studies.”
including senior author Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and
epidemiology at HSPH, and colleagues, prospectively observed 37,698 men
from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study for up to 22 years and
83,644 women in the Nurses’ Health Study for up to 28 years who were
free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer at baseline. Diets were
assessed through questionnaires every four years.
23,926 deaths were documented in the two studies, of which 5,910 were
from CVD and 9,464 from cancer. Regular consumption of red meat,
particularly processed red meat, was associated with increased mortality
risk. One daily serving of unprocessed red meat (about the size of a
deck of cards) was associated with a 13 per cent increased risk of
mortality, and one daily serving of processed red meat (one hot dog or
two slices of bacon) was associated with a 20 per cent increased risk.
specific causes, the corresponding increases in risk were 18 per cent
and 21 per cent for cardiovascular mortality, and 10 per cent and 16 per
cent for cancer mortality. These analyses took into account chronic
disease risk factors such as age, body mass index, physical activity,
family history of heart disease, or major cancers.
serving of total red meat with one serving of a healthy protein source
was associated with a lower mortality risk: Seven per cent for fish, 14
per cent for poultry, 19 per cent for nuts, 10 per cent for legumes, 10
per cent for low-fat dairy products, and 14 per cent for whole grains.
The researchers estimated that 9.3 per cent of deaths in men and 7.6 per
cent in women could have been prevented at the end of the follow-up if
all the participants had consumed less than 0.5 servings per day of red
“This study provides clear evidence that regular consumption
of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to
premature death,” said Hu. “On the other hand, choosing more healthful
sources of protein in place of red meat can confer significant health
benefits by reducing chronic disease morbidity and mortality.
study adds to the growing evidence that sugary beverages are
detrimental to cardiovascular health,” said Prof. Frank B. Hu, study
lead author and professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Harvard
School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. “Certainly, it
provides strong justification for reducing sugary beverage consumption
among patients, and more importantly, in the general population.”
disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Risk factors include
obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, diabetes and poor diet.
who studied 42,883 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study,
found that the increase persisted even after controlling for other risk
factors, including smoking, physical inactivity, alcohol use and family
history of heart disease. Less frequent consumption - twice weekly and
twice monthly - didn’t increase risk.
Researchers also measured
different lipids and proteins in the blood, which are indicators, or
biomarkers, for heart disease. These included the inflammation marker
C-reactive protein (CRP), harmful lipids called triglycerides and good
lipids called high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Compared to non-drinkers,
those who consumed sugary beverages daily had higher triglyceride and
CRP and lower HDL levels.
Artificially sweetened beverages were not linked to increased risk or biomarkers for heart disease in this study.
in January 1986 and every two years until December 2008, participants
answered questionnaires about diet and other health habits. They also
provided a blood sample midway through the survey. Follow-up was 22
Participants were primarily Caucasian men 40-75 years old. All were employed in a health-related profession.
habits of the men in the study may differ from those of the general
public, but findings in women from the 2009 Nurses’ Health Study were
comparable, Hu said.