Red Meat Consumption May Increase Risk of Type II Diabetes

BOSTON–Scientists found a positive association between intake of red meat, especially processed meat, and an increased risk of Type II diabetes in women over age 45, according to a study published in the September issue of Diabetes Care (27, 9:2108-2115, 2004) (

The study, which was conducted over an average of 8.8 years, evaluated 37,309 women aged 45 years and older who were free of cardiovascular disease, cancer and Type II diabetes, and who completed validated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaires in 1993.

During follow-up, documented results indicated 1,558 incident cases of Type II diabetes. After adjusting for age, body mass index (BMI), total energy intake, exercise, alcohol intake, cigarette smoking and family history of diabetes, positive associations were found between intake of red meat and processed meat and the increased risk of Type II diabetes.

Comparing women in the highest quintile with those in the lowest quintile, the multivariate-adjusted relative risks (RRs) of Type II diabetes were 1.28 for red meat intake and 1.23 for processed meat intake. In addition, diabetes risk appeared to be most pronounced for frequent consumption of total processed meat and two major subtypes–bacon and hot dogs.

The results remained significant after further adjustments for intakes of dietary fiber, magnesium, glycemic load and total fat. Intakes of total cholesterol, animal protein and heme iron also were significantly associated with a higher risk of Type II diabetes.

The scientists concluded the data indicate higher consumption of total red meat, especially various processed meats, may increase risk of developing Type II diabetes in women.

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