Brain and Body

Eating Red Meat Linked to a Significantly Higher Risk of Kidney Failure

July 15, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

Pork on the grill
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According to a study of over 63,000 Chinese adults.

Back in October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shocked the world with its announcement that processed and red meats rank alongside smoking as cancer-causers.

Now, to add to the concern, a new study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN) has found that red meat consumption is linked to a higher risk of kidney failure.

According to the researchers, the number of people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) is on the rise, and many cases progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD), which requires a kidney transplant.

In the new study, the researchers examined the link between major protein sources and kidney function by combing through data from the Singapore Chinese Health Study, including 63,257 Chinese adults aged 45 to 74.

In this population, the large majority (97%) of the red meat intake consisted of pork, while other sources of protein included poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, soy, and legumes.

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After an average follow-up of 15.5 years, the results showed that red meat intake was strongly linked to a higher risk of ESRD in a dose-dependent manner. Those in the top 25 percent of high red meat consumption had a 40 percent increased risk of ESRD compared to those who consumed the lowest amounts in the lowest 25 percent.

The researchers found no association between kidney failure and intake of poultry, fish, eggs, or dairy products. They found soy and legumes to be slightly protective.

"We embarked on our study to see what advice should be given to CKD patients or to the general population worried about their kidney health regarding types or sources of protein intake," study lead Dr. Woon-Puay Koh said in a press release.

"Our findings suggest that these individuals can still maintain protein intake but consider switching to plant-based sources; however, if they still choose to eat meat, fish/shellfish and poultry are better alternatives to red meat."

Incredibly, the researchers found that substituting just one serving of red meat with other sources of protein decreased the risk of ESRD by up to 62 percent.

Read next: Eating 3 Servings of Whole Grain a Day Linked to Lower Risk of Dying Early

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