A new global study found there was insufficient research linking the consumption of red meat and dietary patterns with chronic inflammations and serious disease, contrary to the general scientific consensus until now.

The head of the study, associate professor of pediatrics – nutrition at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, Dr. Alexis Wood, said there was inconclusive research to suggest that the risk of inflammations, which could cause a variety of diseases was associated to red meat and diet.

“Our analysis does not support previous observational research associations linking red meat intake and inflammation,” the professor said.

Wood said, “Given the new analysis, recommendations about reducing consumption should be supported by strong scientific evidence, which doesn’t yet exist.”

Wood and her team analyzed data captured from approximately 4,000 older adults participating in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), and recently published their findings in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers found that when adjusted for body mass index (BMI), intake of unprocessed and processed red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) was not directly associated with any markers of inflammation, suggesting that body weight, not red meat, maybe the driver of increased systemic inflammation. Of particular interest was the lack of a link between red meat intake and C-reactive protein (CRP), the major inflammatory risk marker of chronic disease.

“The role of diet, including red meat, on inflammation and disease risk has not been adequately studied, which can lead to public health recommendations that are not based on strong evidence. Our team sought to take a closer look by using metabolite data in the blood, which can provide a more direct link between diet and health,” said Wood.

Other contributors to this work include a Greek Professor of Chronic Disease Epidemiology in the School of Public Health at Imperial College London Joanna Tzoulaki.