You increase your chances of dying early - and developing cancer - if there's too much red meat and processed meats in your diet, a new study has found. And if you eat more white meat, you stand a better chance of a longer, and illness-free, life.
Researchers from the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland reckon that 11 per cent of deaths in men and 16 per cent in women are dying prematurely because they are eating too much red meat or processed meats.
In a survey of 47,976 men and 23.276 women, those in the top fifth of red meat eaters - those who daily ate 62.5 grams per 1000 calories - were far more likely to die than those in the bottom fifth, who ate 22.6 grams per 1000 calories.
Those in the top fifth who could reduce their intake to that of the bottom fifth could reduce their chances of dying from any cause by 11 per cent if male and 16 per cent if female.
Substituting red meat for white was just as good as avoiding meat altogether, the researchers found. In fact, those who had a largely white-meat diet reduced their chances of dying from any disease.
(Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, 2009; 169: 562).