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People who eat a lot of red meat are NOT more likely to have strokes, review finds

Good news for steak lovers! Eating unprocessed red meat DOES NOT increase stroke risk, review finds

  • Researchers used star ratings to measure the strength of previous evidence
  • Lots of raw red meat and strokes got a star rating
  • This means that there could be no connection between the two as the studies were inconsistent

Eating unprocessed red meat doesn’t make you more likely to have a stroke, one review suggests.

For decades, there have been concerns that consuming a lot of steak and pork may increase the risk of heart disease due to their high fat content.

But scientists who analyzed nearly 200 existing studies found “no evidence” linking the two.

And there was also only “weak evidence” that eating unprocessed red meat leads to colon cancer, breast cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Lead study author Dr. Christopher Murray, of Washington University, said he hoped the finding “will clear up confusion and help consumers make informed decisions about diet, exercise and other activities that can affect their long-term health.”

Meat is considered unprocessed if it is fresh and has not been packaged, cooked, canned or altered from its natural state.

Processed meats – such as bacon, sausage and salami – have been modified to improve flavor or shelf life through smoking, salting, brining, drying or canning.

Eating unprocessed red meat does not increase the risk of stroke, contrary to previous findings. Previous studies had conflicting results, University of Washington researchers found

For years, eating red meat has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease due to its high saturated fat content.

The fat is thought to increase levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the body, which is a known risk factor for coronary heart disease.

The researchers examined 180 studies from around the world that looked at certain behaviors and food choices and their effect on disease.

They used a simple star rating system that showed the strength of evidence for each pairing.

One star meant there may be no association, while five meant the behavior increased the likelihood of the condition by more than 85 percent.

Unsurprisingly, the review found very strong evidence between smoking and lung cancer — increasing the risk by 106 percent.

The link between eating a lot of unprocessed red meat and ischemic stroke – the most common form of stroke – only got one star.

A two-star link was found between avoiding vegetables and cardiovascular disease.

People who avoided their greens had between 0 and 15 percent more risk of the condition, according to the review.

Co-lead author Dr Emmanuela Gakidou said: ‘Our analysis not only helps consumers, but can also help policymakers develop health and wellness education programs so that they target the risk factors with the greatest impact on health.

“Health researchers can also use this analysis to identify areas where current evidence is weak and more definitive studies are needed.”

The ratings may change as more data becomes available, especially for low-star ratings links where the research is limited or conflicting, the researchers said.

High star ratings are less likely to change as there is already strong evidence for the link.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Medicine.


There are two main types of stroke:

1. ischemic battle

An ischemic stroke — which accounts for 80 percent of strokes — occurs when there’s a blockage in a blood vessel that prevents blood from reaching part of the brain.


The rarer one, a hemorrhagic stroke, occurs when a blood vessel bursts, flooding one part of the brain with too much blood while depriving other areas of adequate blood supply.

It can be the result of an AVM or arteriovenous malformation (an abnormal cluster of blood vessels) in the brain.

Thirty percent of patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage die before reaching the hospital. Another 25 percent die within 24 hours. And 40 percent of survivors die within a week.


Age, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, family history, and a history of a previous stroke or TIA (a mini-stroke) are all risk factors for having a stroke.


  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding
  • Sudden vision problems or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause


Of the roughly three in four people who survive a stroke, many will have a lifelong disability.

This includes difficulty walking, communicating, eating, and completing daily tasks or chores.


Both are potentially fatal, and patients require surgery or a drug called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) within three hours to save them.


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