If you are someone who loves eating red meat and poultry more frequently, here’s some alarming news for you. Scientists in Singapore have found a potential link between high intake of red meat and poultry items and an increased risk of diabetes.
Researchers from Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS) in Singapore suggest that consumption of a diet with high quantities of beef, pork, mutton and poultry is associated with significantly increased risk of developing diabetes among Chinese Singaporeans.
In the study, the researchers examined different types of red meat consumed by Singaporean Chinese citizens, as well as looked at the different styles of cooking they used and the various risk profiles of these consumers.
Red Meat-Diabetes Link Examined
For the study, the Duke-NUS researchers recruited 45,411 Singapore Chinese citizens and permanent residents aged between 45 and 74, and tracked them between 1993 and 2010. Investigators interviewed all the participants twice, at six-year intervals, about their diet during the course of the study. They recorded their response in a questionnaire that covered 165 food items (including meat items) and beverages.
After about 11 years of follow-up, the researchers discovered a positive association between consumption of too much of red meat and poultry, and risk of developing diabetes.
Link Between Red Meat and Diabetes Established
Precisely, the highest intake of red meat and poultry increased the risk of diabetes by 23 percent and 15 percent respectively, compared to those with the lower intake. The research team did not find any link between the intake of fish/shellfish and risk of diabetes.
The researchers believe that greater amounts of heme-iron- a form of dietary iron- in red meat and poultry is accountable for the increase in diabetes risk.
The current study does not imply that people should eliminate these meats from their diet completely. She, however, stressed that cutting down our intake of these meats will be a good idea.
“We don’t need to remove meat from the diet entirely. Singaporeans just need to reduce the daily intake, especially for red meat, and choose chicken breast and fish/shellfish, or plant-based protein food and dairy products, to reduce the risk of diabetes,” she said.
The research is supported by the National Research Foundation Singapore under the Clinician Scientist Individual Research Grant, and administered by the Ministry of Health, and the United States’ National Institutes of Health. The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology on Tuesday (Sept 5).