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Editor's Correspondence
September 12, 2009

Higher Red Meat Intake May Be a Marker of Risk, Not a Risk Factor Itself

Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(16):1538-1539. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.278

The study by Sinha et al1 affirms that higher intake of red meat is related to increased general and cause-specific mortality. About this, some considerations must be made. First, the data were collected by means of a recall bias–subjected instrument and only 1 time a year in a middle-aged population in which all participants were in the overweight body mass index (BMI) range and had only slight differences (in absolute values) of total energy intake and white meat intake between the extreme quintiles (Q1 and Q5). Second, there was no record about personal history of cardiovascular disease or conditions associated with increased cardiovascular risk like hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, nor the use of medications, and such factors were not included in the multivariate analysis. Third, the authors neither inform us whether the difference in saturated fat intake was significant between Q1 and Q5 nor include it in the multivariate analysis. Finally, those with higher red meat intake were more often sedentary smokers with higher BMI and higher caloric and fat intake.