Researchers looked at data from 37,698 men between 1986 and 2008 and 83,644 women between 1980 and 2008 to produce the findings, published in the international peer-reviewed journal Archives of Internal Medicine.
Senior author Professor Frank Hu, from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, US, said: “This study provides clear evidence that regular consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, contributes substantially to premature death.”
“On the other hand, choosing more healthful sources of protein in place of red meat can confer significant health benefits by reducing chronic disease morbidity (illness) and mortality.”
The researchers found that an additional daily serving of processed red meat in a person’s diet, for example, one hot dog or two rashers of bacon, raised the chances of dying by a fifth.
However, replacing red meat with fish, poultry, or plant-based protein foods contributed to a longer life. Nuts were a particularly good alternative as they were said to reduce the mortality risk by 19 per cent.