Diet Rich in Red Meat Linked to Earlier Death Interview with:

Heli Virtanen, PhD StudentUniversity of Eastern Finland

Heli Virtanen

Heli Virtanen, PhD Student
University of Eastern Finland What is the background for this study?

Response: Optimal amount of protein in diet for supporting longevity is unclear. In addition, there have been indications that different protein sources have differential associations with mortality risk.  Thus, we investigated the associations of proteins and protein sources with mortality risk in the Finnish men of the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. What are the main findings?

Response: We observed that those men who had the highest meat intake were more likely to die during the study period compared to those who had the lowest meat intake. The meat was mainly red and processed meat. The diet very high in animal protein and low in plant protein was also associated with increased death risk. We also observed that among those with serious diseases (cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease), higher total protein intake was associated with increased death risk during the study period, but this was not observed in men free of these diseases. What should readers take away from your report? 

Response: It seems that it is especially detrimental to consume a diet that is very high in animal protein, especially meat, and at the same time low in plant protein sources. Those who consume very high amounts of red and processed meat could improve their health by seeking alternative choices from fish and plant protein sources. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: It would be important to get more research results about the optimal amount of protein in a diet especially among those who already have serious diseases. In addition, there are many potential mechanisms behind the harmful effects of high meat intake and further research hopefully clarifies these mechanisms. Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response: As the mean age of our study population was 53 years in the beginning of the study, our results should not be generalized to elderly. Among elderly, the protein intake is often lower than recommended and increasing protein intake is needed to avoid sarcopenia.

The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study was for the most part funded by research grants to Jukka T Salonen. The present contribution received funding from the Finnish Cultural Foundation North Savo Regional fund and Päivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation to Heli E.K. Virtanen). Dr. Salonen is the CEO of MAS-Metabolic Analytical Services Oy.


Heli E K Virtanen, Sari Voutilainen, Timo T Koskinen, Jaakko Mursu, Petra Kokko, Maija P T Ylilauri, Tomi-Pekka Tuomainen, Jukka T Salonen, Jyrki K Virtanen. Dietary proteins and protein sources and risk of death: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2019; DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqz025 


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74 thoughts on “Diet Rich in Red Meat Linked to Earlier Death

  1. And I imagine that all of these people tested lived identical lifestyles aside from eating red meat….sigh this is just another article that tells half-truths without taking so many other variables into consideration. Journalism has died.

  2. I eat In N Out burgers while splitting traffic on my motorcycle in Los Angeles on my way to a skydiving lesson. I’m loving life. : )

  3. Similar findings were reported in 2016 via JAMA Internal Medicine, study of 131 342 people: “Replacing animal protein of various origins with plant protein was associated with lower mortality … After adjusting for major lifestyle and dietary risk factors, animal protein intake … was associated with higher cardiovascular mortality … Plant protein was associated with lower all-cause mortality … and [lower] cardiovascular mortality…” and

  4. All i know is that if i eat beef my hemmroid bleeds the next morning, if i avoid it completely goes away. Not a vegetarian. Still eat fish and chicken with no problem.

  5. This study is worthless if it included processed meats in its analysis and failed to isolate red meat consumption Processed meats have been shown in one of the largest meta studies to increase death rate while unprocessed meat showed no negative effects

  6. ridiculous fake news.
    no info on what is considered “processed”.
    no info on how meat is prepared, like deep fried in canola oil or lightly sauteed in olive oil?
    eat lots of fresh organic meat, eat lots of fresh orgaic vegetables .

  7. There is a cure for vegetarians it’s called a big juicy thick T Bone steak. My guess PHD from Eastern Finland has grant money from PETA to support her lifestyle and so called research.

    • I would like to know if there are any conflict of interest disclosures with this study.
      1) Who funded the research?
      2) Did the folks running the study have a bias) i.e., vegan, paleo, etc.
      These disclosures should be listed first so I can put the results into perspective.

  8. Well, here’s my take on it…since the liver has the heavy burden of breaking down all this stuff… like animal proteins, lactose, gluten, alcohol, prescription meds, etc., I had to make a healthy choice for my liver… so I dropped the red meat (still do chicken and fish), the lactose, and completely avoid the prescription meds, so I could allow my liver to keep up with the alcohol intake (and even increased it a little)….my goal: make it to 101 (without the dementia of course)!

  9. Eat as much red meat as possible. We have been doing it for thousands maybe millions of years. Snowflake Liberals just want to change history. I’m at Texas Roadhouse eating a rib eye as I comment on this. It is WONDERFUL! The beer ,too!

  10. Lets take a couple of countries like India and Pakistan
    who 95% don’t eat meat and seafood…. look at there life expectancies they live on avg 8 yrs LESS than any meat seafood eating individual


    • Not so fast, Nat Geo Mag Nov 2005 did a world wide study on why certain groups lived >100 and found one thing in common, they consumed no animal fat,i.e. No meat or dairy.
      Case Closed!

      • Asian countries and territories such as Japan and Hong Kong have the highest consumption of red meat and they have the highest life expectancies. They eat almost twice the average daily meat consumption of Americans, but the diffference is Americans are eating awful quality meat surrounded by carbohydrates and sugars that become a lethal combination to the human body.

      • Plus you want to compare Pakistan and India to America? Not apples to apples. Pollution is high in Pakistan and India and Healthcare is also not distributed equally.

  11. Why do researchers insist on conflating red meat with processed meat? They do it because the “borderline statistically significant associations” between red meat and disease completely disappear if they don’t.

  12. The headline should be, non red meat eaters face slow lingering death and subsequent higher incidence of dementia in an unhappy vegan lifestyle.

    • Not to mention the headline really should read “Diet Rich in grain-fed Red Meat Linked to Earlier Death”.

      Red meat finished on grass is different especially the fat.

    • Wrong, Vegans lived longer and healthier, see Nat Geo Mag Nov 2005. Centenarians all over the world had one thing in common, No animal fat,no meat or dairy.

      • Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney’s wife became an animal rights activist and wrote and published several vegetarian cookbooks. She also founded the Linda McCartney Foods company with her husband. She did not eat any meat.

        In 1995, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and died from the disease in 1998 at the age of 56. My Aunts and my Mom and Dad were meat and potato people and they are deceased but never had cancer so it is not the meat but cigarettes that kill you.

    • So when mommy told you to eat your veggies, you pouted? Your assumption that non meat regimens are evil and not tasty, is without foundation in fact…but please…pile your plate high with decaying animal flesh….especially bacon! yum.. the yellow guck coating your arteries must make you feel so “happy”.

  13. This is an “association” study for all causes of death (“Mortality risk”), not a causation study. Did they make any attempt to correct for other behaviors or factors? For example, they state that “those men who had the highest meat intake were more likely to die during the study period compared to those who had the lowest meat intake.”
    These men may also be overweight or in poor overall health because they ingest the highest amount of carbs, drink the most alcohol, smoke the most, exercise the least, drive the most miles, have the more dangerous jobs, etc.
    Unless there are statistical adjustments made for many other lifestyle and health factors, then these types of association studies are worthless, but are most often cited by the media with misleading, click-baiting headlines.

    • No, see Nat. Geo. Mag. Nov 2005. Summary, Live >100 eat no animal fat,i.e. No meat-No dairy. This is world wide.
      I know, you’re addicted to fat as all addicts do defend their addiction.

      • Read the article. That was your big take away?

        I’m at 70% fat and 30% protein (~100% red meat) with my current way of eating and feel absolutely great. Let me stop doing what works and be miserable again because of what you say.

        • Me too! Transferred from the Standard American Diet, to Keto a bit over a year ago. Transitioned to 100% Carnivore diet about 4 months ago. Absolutely amazing and positive change in my mental acuity, muscle mass (better at 60 years old than H School football). Can’t argue with an epidemiological study (can’t prove causation). But my antidotal reality is amazing.

    • Exactly. Not even a real study. Want to review a good study on diet and health review the PURE study which was funded by 17 nations, involves more than a hundred health care professionals and which followed the dietary habits of 135,000 people for 8 years.

    • Another attempt to discourage eating any food that significantly boosts testosterone. The AMA is rife with liberals/progressives and they will use their bully pulpit to con the unwitting into increasing their estrogen levels, so that American men will no longer be the Alphas on Planet Earth. I’d rather die an 80-year-old red-blooded American alpha male who still maintains his morning wood, than a 105-year-old beta male that smells of scented body lotion…

      • Most American “men” are disgustingly overweight/obese, are almost universally despised as terribly ugly, while being one of the highest consumers of meat and dairy per capita; both of which increase the effects of estrogen; which explains quite a lot. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: A] Regards estrodiol, the most potent estrogen: “Mean concentrations of total & free estradiol were 15 & 14% higher for women in the highest quartile of dairy product consumption than for those in the lowest …”
        B) Regards sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) which inhibits the function of estrogens: “Mean SHBG concentrations were approximately 8% & 13% lower for women in the highest quartile compared with the lowest quartile of total red & fresh red meat consumption …” [1]
        In other words consumption of dairy is associated with increased estrogen levels & meat with more estrogen being bioavailable via lower SHGB.

    • The problem with article here is they don’t say how and why meat is bad. Its because high meat diet leads to high homocysteine levels, which leads to heart disease and more. Instead they sell pharma drugs to lower cholesterol, which ruins health. Anti cholesterol drugs are the biggest selling pharma drugs, its their main business. So, they’d never tell you how to fix it with cheap B vitamins. High meat diet also leads to methylation deficiency, leading to high heavy metals and toxins in body, which is fixed by same B vitamins needed to fix high homocysteine (metals also require Andrew Cutler protocol). Both problems are fixed using methyl forms of B12 and folate, and also using Zinc, Magnesium, Betaine. A couple of others also help. Google it… methylation deficiency vitamins, high homocysteine vitamins.
      Don’t get used and abused by Big Pharma, fix it yourself. And FYI…
      Healthcare system is No. 3 cause of death in USA due to “mistakes”, and they admit that. No. 4 cause of death in USA is Big Pharma, due to side effects of properly prescribed drugs, not including their opioid scam.

  14. Red meat has been a large part of my diet for 64 years. My annual physicals attest to the state of my good health. Coincidentally, I just returned from our local meat market with more red meat. I’ll continue to enjoy life, good health and good food as I always have.

    • I’m 68 and have eaten red meat almost exclusively for over 66 years as my dad started me on raw meat sandwiches as soon as I could chew.
      Plants and plant based diets are killers.
      I took today off from work to move rocks and even worked in a five mile
      run. Go meat!!!

      • I’ll throw a flat iron steak on the grill tonight in honor of your continued good health and long life. Go meat!! Indeed.

      •`re a baby. Come back in 25 or 30 years and talk to me. My mother is 90 and still works in an office . NO MEDS and perfectly healthy as a 60 year plant eater. That`s NOTHING but plants. Her friend, whom she led to veganism 50 years ago is in her 80`s and still skiing and living a full healthy life. So, spare us your “eat meat!’ nonsense. You`l be dead soon enough if you keep it up.

  15. Extra Virgin Olive Oil counteracts the negative effects of eating meat and eggs. It fights heart disease and cancer. Take multiple tablespoons a day.

    • Before you kill yourself with that: “There have been studies, though, showing even extra virgin olive oil, contrary to expectations, may significantly impair endothelial function as well …
      So, improvements in health may be in spite of, rather than because of, the oil. In terms of their effects on postprandial endothelial function (after a meal), the beneficial components of the Mediterranean diet may primarily be the antioxidant-rich foods—the vegetables, fruits, and their derivatives, such as balsamic vinegar…”
      Text, clip & sources at

  16. Why did they lump red meat and processed meat together. What if you eat a lot of organic red meat? Is eating a lot of good quality beef and lamb bad for you, or were they just eating sausage, bacon, MacDonalds?

  17. Very rarely do we see research not derived from bias. I would be willing to bet the author of this is ether a vegetarian or vegan. Either way, this report doesn’t account for us who have a balanced diet. Fresh veggies, mixed with moderate fats (the good ones) as well as sensible portions of proteins (from both animal & plants).
    I call BS on this article until further facts are cited.

  18. Talk about a misleading headline.

    The Results state “borderline statistically significant associations with increased mortality risk.” The Conclusion states “Higher total protein intake appeared to be associated with mortality mainly among those with a predisposing disease.”

    “Borderline statistically significant” and “appeared to be associated… among those with a predisposing disease.” Give me a break.

    • I could actually tell from the title itself. “Linked”. Which means observational study. And of course observational have squat all nothing to do with establishing causation.

      So yeah, you’re right, basically a worthless article. Trash can for this one….

  19. Ppl now live 30 yrs longer on average than they did in the 19th century. What is this researcher talking about?

  20. Interesting but I hope this study was performed in a purely scientific manner and not to promote personal biases against eating animal protein.

    The study group was rather small and ethnically monolithic so a larger multi country study would definitely be warranted to have usable data.

    • They don’t. There’s no mention of sugar, or carbohydrate intake in these peoples diets which significantly raises the complexity of what the body does with insulin and fat. Also, intermittent fasting is a gigantic game changer in terms of what the body does with meat, vegetables and carbohydrates.

  21. There is a difference between grain fed red meat and grass fed red meat. Animals raised on grain foods will have a much higher saturated fat content that will have poor health affects. Red meat from grass fed animals are much healthier. If possible, do a study that differentiates the two meat sources.

  22. This sounds like another weak epidemiological study. It occurs to me that these studies tell us very little about consumption of meat. How does the correlation here indicate causation? What was sugar consumption among those eating higher amounts of animal proteins? Was their consumption of animal proteins coupled with an higger average consumption in carbohydrates and fat? People who eat more of everything will experience more health problems. It seems interesting to suggest causality on behalf of animal proteins, given the many uncontrolled factors at play in these studies. Did your subjects only eat animal protein? To what extent are other factors responsible?

    • I bet this student scientist would come to the conclusion that it seems to rain more when people carry umbrellas.

  23. This is hogwash without any supporting facts. How does a student receive these sort of headlines? Very Much Fake.

  24. Was the red meat grain fed or grass fed? Was the red meat grass fed and grain finished? (Last 6 wks of life grain fed) Processed meat we know is bad for everybody because of the ingredients. This study is too general. I’m skeptical.

  25. I’m 68, exercise daily and consume a variety of fresh meats (beef, pork, chicken) as well as fresh fish, eggs, cheese and milk throughout the month, always accompanied by salad or fresh vegetables.

    I have had heart disease, an aortic valve replacement and a pacemaker for 12 years and my cardiologists say I’m doing great. My advice is to skip junk food, deep fried food, processed food, excess sugar, excess alchohol and avoid soda pop, nicotine and recreational drugs, including mj.

      • You obviously haven’t read it.
        Results :
        “Higher intakes of total protein and animal protein had borderline statistically significant associations with increased mortality risk”
        “Intakes of fish, eggs, dairy, or plant protein sources were not associated with mortality.”
        “When evaluated based on disease history at baseline, the association of total protein with mortality appeared more evident among those with a history of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer (n = 1094) compared with those without disease history “

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