Livestock production is one of the leading contributors to climate change — some studies have shown that it produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars — but have you considered the affect that red meat is having on your body? It has long been known that a diet too rich in red meat can lead to health problems, but now a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health reveals that eating any amount of red meat can increase the chance of premature death. Sounds like it might be time to extend Meatless Mondays to the other six days of the week.

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The study, which followed more than 110,000 adults for 28 years, found that those who ate a daily portion of red meat were 13 percent more likely to die during the study period and 14 percent more likely to develop heart disease or cancer. It gets worse: if you add another extra daily serving of red meat to your diet, the risk of premature death jumps to 20 percent. And no red meat is exempt. “Any red meat you eat contributes to the risk,” An Pan, the study’s lead author, told the LA Times.

The Harvard researchers also revealed that replacing red meat with vegetarian options was associated with increased health and longevity. For example, the study found that substituting a serving of nuts for beef or pork led to a 19 percent lower mortality risk. And all meats are not created equal; substituting poultry for red meat was linked to a 14 percent lower risk of dying during the study. Red meat has been linked to several types of cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases, so this new study doesn’t come as a great surprise, but the numbers are pretty startling. So for the sake of the planet, and for your own health, ease up on the bacon double cheeseburgers!

+ Archives of Internal Medicine

Via LA Times

Lead photo © Flickr user stu_spivack