Red Meat May Harm Your Kidneys, Study Says

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Eating red meat may increase the risk for kidney failure, according to a large new study from Singapore. The results have an optimist side, though; if you swap even one daily serving of red meat for another protein, the risk is lower!

Consuming red meat constantly can put you in danger of having end-stage renal disease, basically the loss of your normal kidney function, according to the study conducted by a team from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore. The study was published in July in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology and was supported by funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The association between red meat, especially pork, and kidney failure was found to be “dose-dependent”, which means that the higher your intake, the greater the risk becomes. The team of scientists took into account factors like lifestyle and other health conditions, but the association held up.

“Our findings suggest that patients with chronic kidney disease or the general population worried about their kidney health can still maintain protein intake but consider switching to plant-based sources,” said Dr. Woon-Puay Koh, professor in the Office of Clinical Sciences at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore. “However, if they still choose to eat meat, fish/shellfish and poultry are better alternatives to red meat”, added Koh.

The researchers conducted the study on 63,000 Chinese adults in Singapore for an average of 15.5 years. They filled out food questionnaires on their daily protein intake. 97 percent of red meat intake consisted of pork. Those who consumed the most pork had a 40 percent increased risk of developing end-stage kidney disease. Those who consumed soy or legumes as a protein source were in better health. Also, according to the study, people who replaced one serving of red meat with one serving of poultry had a 62 percent less chance of kidney failure.

Red Meat May Harm Your Kidneys, Study Says
If you want to keep your kidneys safer, replace one serving of red meat with poultry.

The link between red meat and kidney disease

When it comes to the relationship between consuming red meat and contracting kidney disease, experts are still torn on the subject. Most specialists are sure that eating red meat in moderation is ok for people who are otherwise healthy. But for the ones who already have some kind of kidney damage, it’s best to resort to a low-protein diet.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 30 million Americans have chronic kidney disease. And the situation has been getting worse. Between 2000 and 2008, twice as many people aged 65 or older have been diagnosed with kidney disease, according to stats from the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Last year, the World Health Organization warned of a possible link between red meat and cancer. WHO ranked red meat as a group one carcinogen, the same as cigarettes, alcohol, and asbestos. Last November, a study in the journal Cancer found that meat cooked at high temperatures could affect kidney cancer risk.

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