Author Interviews, Inflammation, Nutrition, Red Meat / 09.11.2023 Interview with: Dr. Alexis C. Wood United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center Baylor College of Medicine, TX What is the background for this study? Response: We know (we think!) that what we eat has a big influence on our health. However, discovering which foods influence our health, and how, is highly challenging. Research investigating this topic should be seen as an on-going process as new results and new study methods emerge, and as the food environment shifts. Red meat is often considered a food that should be minimized in diets designed to support good health. This may seem surprising as red meat is a good source of protein and many other nutrients, but the advice to limit red meat intake is based on several large-scale studies showing associations between red meat consumption and the development of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, and other cardiovascular disease risk related factors. However, newer research, with different designs or approaches, has struggled to conclusively support this association; for example, in studies where the amount of red meat in people’s diet is manipulated, we do not see the expected increases in risk. Other studies have suggested that any associations between red meat intake and chronic disease may reflect confounding effects by adiposity – that is, the increased risk of disease really reflects the increased risk associated with a higher BMI. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Colon Cancer, Red Meat / 13.06.2023 Interview with: Dr. Suneel Kamath MD Gastrointestinal Oncologist Cleveland Clinic Senior Author on this research What is the background for this study? Response: Colorectal cancer rates in young people under age 50 are skyrocketing and have been for the last 3-4 decades. We really don’t understand why because most cases (probably around 70%) are not genetic or hereditary, just random, unfortunate events. We suspect that it is some exposure(s) like excess consumption of red meat, processed foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, excess antibiotic use altering the microbiome, rising incidence of obesity or some other factors. We really don’t know why yet. Our study used a technology called metabolomics, the study of breakdown products and production building blocks for our bodies, to look for differences in colorectal cancer in young people versus people that are older that developed colorectal cancer. Because metabolomics measures how each individual interacts with the exposures in our environment like diet, air quality, etc., it is a way to bridge the gap between our nature (determined by genetics) and nurture (determined by our exposures). (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Red Meat / 15.04.2021 Interview with: Dr Zahra Raisi-Estabragh, PhD fellow Cardiologist Trainee at Queen Mary University of London and Barts Health NHS Trust What is the background for this study? Response: Previous studies have linked greater consumption of red and processed meat to poorer clinical cardiovascular outcomes, for example, higher risk of having a heart attack or of dying from heart disease. However, the biological mechanisms underlying these relationships are not well understood. Furthermore, the impact of meat intake on more direct measures of heart health, such as, structure and function of the heart and blood vessels, has not been previously studied in large cohorts. Examining how meat intake may influence different aspects of cardiovascular health can help us better understand its health effects.  (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Heart Disease, Red Meat, Stroke, Vegetarians / 10.09.2019 Interview with: Dr Tammy Y N Tong PhD Cancer Epidemiology Unit Nuffield Department of Population Health University of Oxford, Oxford, UK What is the background for this study? Response: Vegetarian and vegan diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, partly due to the perceived health benefits, but also concerns about the environment and animal welfare. However, the full extent of the potential health benefits and hazards of these diets is not well understood. Previous studies have suggested that vegetarians have a lower risk of coronary heart disease than non-vegetarians, but data from large studies are limited, and little has been reported on the difference in risk of stroke. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, Nutrition, PLoS, Red Meat / 05.09.2019 Interview with: Christopher A. McDevitt B.Sc. (Hons) Ph.D , Associate Professor Group Leader, ARC Future Fellow The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity Melbourne | Victoria | Australia What is the background for this study? Response: Zinc-deficiency affects nearly one-third of the world’s population and is associated with an increased susceptibility to respiratory and enteric infections. The foremost global respiratory disease is pneumonia, which kills more than 1 million people per year with young children and the elderly being at greatest risk. This study investigated how zinc-deficiency affected Streptococcus pneumoniae infection, the primary bacterial cause of pneumonia. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, Nutrition, Red Meat / 08.08.2019 Interview with: Jyrki Virtanen, PhD Assistant professor of nutritional epidemiology University of Eastern Finland Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition Kuopio, Finland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: We have previously found in this same eastern Finnish male study population that higher egg intake was associated with lower risk of developing dementia and with better performance in tests assessing cognitive capacity. Eggs are a major source of choline, especially phosphatidylcholine, and choline (which is an essential nutrient) is necessary for the formation of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter. Earlier studies have linked choline intake with better cognitive processing but there was no information whether choline intake would also be associated with lower risk of developing dementia. So the purpose of our current study was to investigate whether higher choline intake would associate with better cognitive performance and with lower risk of dementia, which would support our previous findings with egg intake. And in the current study we did find that especially higher phosphatidylcholine intake was associated with a lower risk of developing dementia and also with better performance in tests measuring memory and linguistic abilities of the men in the study. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease, Red Meat / 22.04.2019 Interview with: Marta Guasch-Ferre, PhD Research Scientist, Dept of Nutrition Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health Instructor of Medicine, Channing Division of Network Medicin Harvard Medical School Boston, MA, 02115 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Previous findings from randomized controlled trials evaluating the effects of red meat on cardiovascular disease risk factors have been inconsistent. But our new study, which makes specific comparisons between diets high in red meat versus diets high in other types of foods, shows that substituting red meat with high-quality protein sources lead to more favorable changes in cardiovascular risk factors. That is, to properly understand the health effects of red meat, it’s important to pay attention to the comparison diet. People do not simply eat more or less meat – it will almost always be in substitution with other foods.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Lifestyle & Health, Red Meat / 16.04.2019 Interview with: 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Nutrition, Red Meat / 04.04.2019 Interview with: Saeed Mastour Alshahrani, MPH, PhD School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, California, USA College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Khalid University Abha, Saudi Arabia What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: -The consumption of red and processed meat has been associated with risks of importance to public health including cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Several studies have found that red and processed meat intake was associated with an increased risk of mortality. However, levels of meat intake in those studies were relatively high. It remains of interest whether even relatively low intake levels of red and processed meat might be associated with greater mortality, compared to zero intake.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer Research, Red Meat / 05.10.2018 Interview with: "bacon&eggs" by ilaria is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Maryam Farvid, Ph.D., Research Scientist   Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Boston, MA 02115 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Prior prospective studies on red and processed meat consumption with risk of breast cancer have produced inconsistent results. Current meta-analysis of 15 prospective studies shows that women who eat a high amount of processed meat each day may have a higher risk of breast cancer than those who don't eat or have a low intake in their diet.  (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Red Meat / 31.05.2018 Interview with: “mmmm Meat” by Glen MacLarty is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Jyrki Virtanen, PhD Adjunct professor of nutritional epidemiology Heli Virtanen, MSc University of Eastern Finland Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition Kuopio, Finland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous studies have found that animal sources of protein may have an adverse impact on the risk of cardiovascular diseases, like myocardial infarct, whereas plant sources of protein have had an opposite impact. In this study we investigated that how protein intake from different dietary sources is associated with developing heart failure in men during the study’s follow-up. During the mean follow-up time of about 22 years, 334 men developed heart failure. The main finding of the study was that higher protein intake was associated with a moderately higher risk of heart failure and the findings were similar with protein from most dietary sources, although the association was stronger with protein from animal sources. Only protein from fish and eggs were not associated with the risk in our study. (more…)
Author Interviews, Coffee, Heart Disease, Red Meat, Stroke / 15.11.2017 Interview with: Coffee being poured Coffee pot pouring cup of coffee.  copyright American Heart AssociationLaura Stevens University of Colorado Aurora, CO What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We started with asking ourselves how we could better predict cardiovascular and stroke outcomes.  In an ideal world, we would be able to predict cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke with 100% accuracy long before the occurrence of the event.  The challenge here is there are so many potential risk factors, and testing each one using traditional methods would be extremely time consuming, and possibly infeasible. Therefore, we used artificial intelligence to find potential risk factors that could be important for risk of CVD and stroke.  The results of this analysis pointed to consumption of coffee cups per day and the number of times red meat was consumed per week as being potentially important predictors of CVD. We then looked into these findings further using traditional statistical analyses to determine that increased coffee consumption and red meat consumption appeared to be associated with decreased risk of CVD.  The study initially used data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) original cohort. The findings from this data were then tested using data from 2 independent studies, the Cardiovascular Heart Study (CHS) and the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC), which both supported the association of increased coffee consumption with decreased CVD risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Nutrition, Red Meat / 11.01.2017 Interview with: Wayne W. Campbell PhD Center on Aging and the Life Course Purdue University What is the background for this study? Response: Organizations that promote healthy eating often recommend consuming no more than 3.5-4.5 2-3 ounce servings of red meat per week. This recommendation is mainly based on data from epidemiological studies that observe a cohort of peoples’ eating habits over time and relate those habits to whether or not they experience a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, or cardiovascular-related death. These studies show associations between dietary choices and health but are unable to determine if a dietary choice is actually causing the disease. Randomized controlled clinical trials are able to determine causality by isolating one dietary variable to see the effects of that variable on certain health risk factors. Therefore, our lab compiled data from randomized controlled trials assessing the consumption of ≤ vs >3.5 servings of total red meat per week on blood lipids and lipoproteins and blood pressures, since these are common measures taken by clinicians to determine the risk for developing cardiovascular disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, Kidney Stones, Nutrition, Protein, Red Meat / 01.08.2016 Interview with: Pietro Manuel Ferraro, MD MSc PhD Assistant Professor Fondazione Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli Catholic University of the Sacred Heart Senior Collaborator in the Nurses' Health Study Brigham and Women's Hospital Channing Division of Network Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In our study, we looked at the association between dietary intake of different sources of protein (vegetable, dairy and non-dairy animal), potassium (a marker of fruits and vegetables) and their interaction and the risk of forming kidney stones. We looked at their interaction because some protein is a source of acid, whereas fruits and vegetables are a source of alkali, thus their relationship could potentially impact acid-base status and in turn the risk of stones by modifying the metabolism of calcium and other elements such as urine citrate and uric acid. We found that the risk of forming stones depends not only on the amount of protein but also on the source, with no risk associated with intake of vegetable and dairy protein, and a modestly higher risk for excessive non-dairy animal protein; on the other hand, intake of potassium was associated with a markedly lower risk. Interestingly, the interaction between intake of protein and potassium, the so called net acid load, was also associated with higher risk of forming kidney stones, suggesting that the effect of acid intake is modulated by that of alkali and vice versa. (more…)
Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, Nutrition, Red Meat / 17.07.2016 Interview with: 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Lipids, Nutrition, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Red Meat / 18.02.2016 Interview with: Professor Chris Seal and Professor Carlo Leifert Nafferton Ecological Farming Group (NEFG),School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University Nafferton Farm, Stocksfield, Northumberland UK Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: In 2009 an FSA-sponsored study by Dangour et al. was published and concluded that there are no composition differences between organic and conventional crops and animal (meat and dairy) products. This contradicted the results of literature reviews, field experiments and retail surveys that many of the scientists involved in the EU-FP7 project QualityLowInputFoods ( had carried out or were in the process of completing in 2009. We therefore decided to put together an international team of scientists and carry out a larger, updated systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses to determine whether or not the Dangour et al (2009) study was justified in drawing the conclusions they had.  This took 5 years to complete. We reported on crops in 2014 ( and the studies published now report the results on meat ( and milk/dairy products ( Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: 
  • both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products
  • organic meat had slightly lower concentrations of two saturated fats (myristic and palmitic acid) that are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • organic milk contains 40% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
  • organic milk contains slightly higher concentrations of iron, Vitamin E and some carotenoids
  • conventional milk contained around 70% more of the essential mineral iodine and slightly more selenium
We feel the most important results in terms of nutrition is that both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products. Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function. Organic milk had 57% higher concentrations of the nutritionally most desirable, very long chain (VLC) omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Fatty acid profiles in milk are known to change very little during processing in to high fat dairy products such as butter and cheese. Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and better immune function. The European Food safety Authority (EFSA) estimates that average dietary intakes of VLC omega-3 fatty acids account for less than half of what we need for optium health. The finding of substantially higher concentrations of iodine in conventional milk is also important information, especially for UK consumers, where iodized table salt is not widely available and dairy products are an important source of this nutrient. However, it should be pointed out that the Organic Milk Marketing Co-operative (OmsCo) has recently increased iodine fortification of organic dairy feeds and reports that levels of iodine in organic milk are now similar to those found in conventional milk ( (more…)
Author Interviews, Karolinski Institute, Red Meat / 18.07.2014

Andrea Bellavia From the Unit of Nutritional Epidemiology and the Unit of Biostatistics Institute of Environmental Medicine Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Interview with: Andrea Bellavia From the Unit of Nutritional Epidemiology and the Unit of Biostatistics Institute of Environmental Medicine Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Bellavia: By evaluating together the consumption of processed and fresh red meat, we observed that processed red meat consumption was associated with shorter life, implying a potential negative effect on health. On the other hand, consumption of only fresh red meat was not associated with either shorter or longer survival. Therefore, the main finding of this work is that the negative effects of red meat consumption might only be due to meat processing, which counteract the positive effects of the beneficial nutrients of meat. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Red Meat / 17.07.2014 Interview with: Dr inz. Joanna Kaluza Department of Human Nutrition Warsaw University of Life Sciences - SGGW Warsaw POLAND Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Response: The most important finding of my study is the fact that processed red meat consumption, but not unprocessed red meat, increases a risk of Heart Failure incidence and Heart Failure mortality. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, JAMA, Nutrition, Red Meat / 28.06.2013 An Pan, PhD

Research Associate, Dept Nutrition 655 Huntington Avenue Building 2, Room 351 Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Changes in Red Meat Consumption and Subsequent Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Three Cohorts of US Men and Women What are the main findings of the study? Answer: -- Compared with people who did not change their intake of red meat, those who increased it by as little as half a serving a day (about 1.5 ounces) over a four-year period had a 48% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the subsequent 4 years. -- People who decreased their intake by half a serving a day over four years did not have an acute reduced risk in the next four years compared to people who did not change their intake, but had a reduced risk of developing the disease by 14% in the entire follow-up period, suggesting a prolonged effect. -- The findings included both processed meat such as lunch meat and hot dogs and unprocessed meats such as hamburger, steak and pork. And the association was generally stronger for processed red meat compared to unprocessed red meat. -- Adjusting for weight modestly reduced the association between red meat consumption and diabetes suggesting that weight gain played a role in the development of the disease. (more…)