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Steak and hot dogs linked to early death

. 3/26/2009

It gives a new meaning to the phrase "meat is murder": a study of more than half a million Americans has found that consuming steaks, hot dogs and other red and processed meats significantly increased participants' chances of dying during the decade in which they were tracked.

Women who consumed the most red meat – 66 grams (2.3 ounces) per 1000 calories – were roughly 36% more likely to die than women who ate the least red meat – 9.1 grams (0.3 ounces). For men, a similar difference in red meat consumption, upped death rates by 31%.

To put it the other way around, the researchers say that 11% of deaths in men and 16% of deaths in women could be prevented if people who eat a lot of red meat cut their consumption.

"This is probably the biggest and most carefully done study on the relationship between diet and mortality that I've seen," says Barry Popkin, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, who was not involved in the study.

The study, led by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Rockville, Maryland, followed about 545,000 men and women between the ages of 50 and 71. Between 1995 and 2005, 47,976 men and 23,276 women participating in the study died.

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