Infographic: Red Meat Is Killing Us

A new study suggests some terrifying risks that come with eating just a little red meat. But red meat is an alarmingly large portion of the American diet.

No meal seems quite so American—or even quite so mouth-watering—as a nice thick porterhouse steak, or a hamburger straight off the grill. The only problem is that these meals appear to be killing us.

That was the recent finding of a study that showed that with each additional 3-ounce portion of red meat you eat each day, you get a 12% greater risk of dying in a given year, a 10% greater risk of cancer, and a 16% greater risk of cardiovascular disease. Let me repeat that, because it’s absolutely crazy: A 12% greater risk of dying in a given year, a 10% greater risk of cancer, and a 16% greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

If you just saw a bunch of meaningless words and numbers in the paragraph above, here’s the gory details laid out in one infographic. (The numbers for early death and cancer are slightly different; this is presumably because the designers used an older study.) The truly scary part is that not only is red meat dangerous, but Americans, more than virtually every country on Earth, love red meat:

Perhaps the most quietly alarming detail in the infographic above is the figures about processed meat. And it squares with the most recent study available—the same one I cited above found that the 12% risk of dying jumps to 20%. Your risk of cardiovascular disease rises to 21%, and your risk of cancer rises to 16%. That’s right: The cancer risk resulting from eating a hot dog everyday is 60% greater than from a hamburger.

The infographic then tries to posit a reason: Something called pink slime:

This is where the data is starting to tip to shaky ground: Pink slime, though it does appear in many processed meats, hasn’t been thoroughly studied for its health effects. Nonetheless, that recent study about red meat has essentially caused a collapse in the industry. Which is something of a red herring (pun intended): I suspect that when the furor about red-meat dies down, we’ll all go back to our usual ways, happy to now avoid a little pink slime where we can. Not so fast. Red meat is really the problem.

[Top image: Supermimicry/Shutterstock]

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  • Boringshit

    You're all going to die anyway.  Eat whatever the hell you want, you still end up dead in the end.  Hopefully some of the rantings are true and a majority of humans will die sooner than later.  Most of you are a waste of space anyway.  Hell, I'd eat you if it was on the menu.  Anyone else getting hungry for something bloody?

  • Recardo Jimenez Jr.

    I used to eat meat than I stopped when I was 12 & have stayed a vegetarian for about 9 years. I don't miss meat, but I mainly do it for my love of animals & the environment, not really for my health. 

  • Fabian Galon

    I am so sick and tired of stuff like this. For every "fact" about food there is someone who disproves it within a couple of days. There is no way for a regular person to figure out what is true.

    I have come to the conclusion that what's best for me is to eat a varied diet, and not eat anything in excess.

  • silent522

    But this is about minced meat only? And I wonder where the statistics are coming from. They don't provide the source of information.

  • Brittany Pierre

    do you know how hard it is to completely change eating habits? ive eaten meat all my life. and ive tried to be a vegetarian 3 times already this year. i crave cow.

  • Cate

     Yeah, I crave meat too. But I don't eat it. If you really want to stop doing something, you won't do it.

  • Mary

    Thanks, Cliff for this info.  Whether or not these facts are fully supported or not, we all have a moral obligation to eat intelligently.  More plants, fewer animals.  Knowing where the food you eat comes from would be smart investigative work for all of us.  And, regarding the people who eat fast food everyday - and there are lots of them - there's this problem called overpopulation that could be lessened by those practices.
    Survival of the fittest.  Mary

  • Chris11

    Cliff should stick to graphic design and not try scientific interpretation. As noted below, Zoe Harcombe has demolished this pretty well, but the fundamental misconception is the old one: correlation does not equal causation. When will journalists learn this?

  • TylerDurden

    And on a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.

  • Ssm818

    I am so tired of scare tactical "proof" that eating red meat will kill you. Then people say gluten is bad for you. Then there is the cave man diet that says you should eat plenty of meat and veggies and carbs will kill you. 

    Whatever the trend is of the day, the moment someone says this will kill you I immediately do not read it. I think even more important than diet is exercise yet no one bothers to mention this when talking about diet. Get off your ass and exercise and you will be fine!

  • Ssm818

    It seems your lack of reason matches this article perfectly. I never said to not pay attention to what you are eating. This "info"graphic is not talking about chemicals and antibiotics, it is talking about how meat alone will kill you, as it says precisely in the title. 

    Exercise undeniably is so good for every part of your body and it is amazing to me that when people talk about nutritional health, the idea of exercise is not even mentioned. 

    I am definitely not picking on anyone, this scare tactical infographic is picking on its readers and trying to scare us into eating the way they personally think is right though it is not at all supported by real evidence. 

    Maybe you should read the infographic and my reply before spouting your BS. 

  • Jaidee

      If you think that you will be better off exercising than paying attention to what you are  consuming (which turns to energy that you burn off during  said exercising), then you need a lot more education.  What you put into your body is the single most important part about survival. The idea that living off of a ton of chemicals and antibiotics and going for a jog will help you live a long, healthy life is just ignorant. How about you do some research and stop trying to pick on the people who are trying to tell you the truth. 

  • Tiffany

    Articles like this one do not help or motivate people to want to make healthier changes in their lives because this is so blown out of proportion.  Everything in moderation folks.  There is nothing wrong with red meat as long as you are not eating a huge hamburger or porter house steak everyday.  Yes-Americans do have one of the highest obesity rates in the world but it is not because of the amount of red meat we consume but rather our sedentary lifestyles.    <a href="http:"" savue"="" target="_blank">The Neenan Company   </a href="http:>

  • Jaidee

     True, you should do everything in moderation, but diabetes and obesity doesn't happen from sitting on your couch all day, it happens because of what you consume.  People really should start listening to these articles instead of trying to ridicule them.

  • David

    What a bunch of twaddle. Preaching like this always reminds me of a student newspaper article headlined, "Statistical proof: hospitals cause cancer."

  • lucoweb

    there's so much distortion in this article that I won't even bother
    replying. I have a busy day ahead of me, pretty much unlike the biased
    source of this questionable material. 

  • Shrek

    Mortality studies which this is are always flawed because it's really impossible to separate ones lifestyle out of the equation. Those that eat more processed meat most likely also eat more fast food, which also means they consume more high fructose corn syrup and or aspartame. They most likely are either busier people or poorer people. All of those could be factors in reduced mortality. And who eats a hotdog every day of their life?

    Humans are not carnivores nor are they herbivores they are omnivores.

  • Yogarani108

    We process our food far too much, so that it's no longer safe to consume meat.  

    I gave it up years ago when I had problems digesting it lacking a digestive enzyme. I do think that the Yoginis and Yogis are right, we are better off health wise, and mental health wise, not eating red meat, and if we so chose no flesh foods at all.