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Can Meat Cause Diabetes and Cancer?

Researchers from the University of Oslo pooled data from twelve separate studies and found that high intakes of all types of meat may increase the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by up to 17%. Red meat and processed meat alone raised the risk of diabetes by 21% and 41% respectively.

The study was published online in the August 2009 issue of the Diabetologia.

This meta-analysis follows a handful of earlier studies that also reflect negatively on meat. One study, sponsored by The National Cancer Institute, found that red and processed meats may raise the risk of lung and colorectal cancer by 20%.

Another report published by the World Cancer Research Fund in 2007 linked diet directly to cancer risk, citing high intakes of alcohol and red meat as particularly harmful.

Yet another study that included half a million participants published earlier this year in The Archives of Internal Medicine showed that high intakes of red and processed meat may modestly increase the risk of death from all causes, particularly cancer and heart disease.

Studies looking into the mechanisms behind the relationship between meat consumption and diabetes and cancer are scarce to date, but the high cholesterol and saturated fat content of meat likely play a large role.

Processed meats are also high in nitrites. Over 90% of nitrites tested have been linked to higher risk for cancer.

While too much red meat can be harmful to your health, eating the right meat in moderation is good for a balanced diet. Try eating lean cuts of meat such as round, chuck, sirloin, or loin. The American Heart Association recommends keeping your daily consumption below 6 ounces.

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