Red Meat Strongly Associated With Increased Risk of Kidney Disease Interview with:

Woon-Puay KOH | Professor Office of Clinical Sciences| Duke-NUS Medical School Singapore 169857

Dr. Woon-Puay kOH

Woon-Puay KOH | Professor
Office of Clinical Sciences| Duke-NUS Medical School
Singapore 169857 What is the background for this study?

Response: There is a growing burden of chronic kidney disease worldwide, and many progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD), which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant. Hence, urgent efforts are needed in risk factor prevention, especially in the general population. Current guidelines recommend restricting dietary protein intake to help manage patients with advanced chronic kidney disease, and slow progression to ESRD. However, there is limited evidence that overall dietary protein restriction or limiting specific food sources of protein intake may slow kidney function decline in the general population. Hence, we embarked on our study to see what dietary advice may be helpful to the general population in order to reduce the risk of ESRD. What are the main findings?

Response: Using data from the prospective cohort of over 63,000 Chinese living in Singapore, known as the Singapore Chinese Health Study, after an average follow-up of 15.5 years, we found that red meat intake was strongly associated with an increased risk of ESRD in a dose-dependent manner. People consuming the highest amount (top 25%) of red meat had a 40% increased risk of developing ESRD compared to people consuming the lowest amount (bottom 25%). No association was found with intakes of poultry, fish, eggs, or dairy products, while soy and legumes appeared to be slightly protective. Substituting one serving of red meat per day with other sources of protein reduced the risk of ESRD by up to 62%. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our findings suggest that to reduce the risk of ESRD, while individuals can still maintain their protein intake, it is best to eat red meat in moderation. For example, instead of eating red meat for every meal or daily, it is advisable to replace it with other meat such as poultry and fish/shellfish, or plant-based protein such as soy and legumes for alternate meals or days. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Future studies are warranted to confirm our findings and to investigate the underlying mechanisms as to how the chemicals present in red meat may aggravate the progression of chronic kidney disease. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: While this study has shown strong evidence that concurs with findings from other population-based studies in US, which have also suggested that dietary pattern with high intake of red meat could be associated with decline in kidney function, given the observational nature of our study, any inference on causality should be made with caution. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Q.-L. J. Lew, T. H. Jafar, H. W. L. Koh, A. Jin, K. Y. Chow, J.-M. Yuan, W.-P. Koh. Red Meat Intake and Risk of ESRD.Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 2016; DOI:10.1681/ASN.2016030248

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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