What the Health did its part in dispelling the myth that meat is a necessary component of a healthy diet, and many studies have been conducted linking animal products with health problems. Now, we have even more information suggesting that red meat consumption is linked to high death rates – from a whopping nine diseases.

A new cohort study published in the British Medical Journal established a connection between the consumption of red meat to an increase in death rates from nine different diseases: cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, infections and diseases of the heart, liver, kidneys and respiratory tract.

Significantly, the study found that this was true of both processed and unprocessed red meat; only the former usually thought of as the unhealthy option.

The study, which assessed the dietary habits of over 536,000 people aged 50-71, had an objective of determining “the association of different types of meat intake and meat associated compounds with overall and cause specific mortality.” The conclusion of the study was that those consuming the highest quantity of meat over a 16-year period had a 26% higher rate of death from all of the above nine diseases.

The authors of the study said:

“This is the largest study, so far, to show increased mortality risks from different causes associated with consuming both processed and unprocessed red meat, and it underlines the importance of heme iron, nitrates, and nitrites in assessing the pathways related to health risks associated with red meat intake.”

According to the study, the effects of meat consumption on human health could be attributed to ingredients like heme iron, nitrates, and nitrites, which are added to meat during the curing process; high intakes of heme iron are associated with cancer and cardiovascular disease.

By contrast, nitrates from vegetable sources may have potential benefits, especially for cardiovascular health.

Another cohort study last year, conducted by the Mayo Clinic, found similar results and consequently, as an imperative, recommended that physicians advise patients to stop consumption of animal products and instead opt for a plant-based diet.

As the evidence supporting the benefits of a plant-based diet continues to build; the case for eating meat is dwindling.