Red Meat Linked with Rheumatoid Arthritis in Study
People who eat lots of red meat may be raising their risk of rheumatoid arthritis, an incurable and crippling disease, British researchers reported on Thursday.
People who eat lots of red meat may be raising their risk of rheumatoid arthritis, an incurable and crippling disease, British researchers reported on Thursday. A study of 25,000 people living in Europe shows that those who ate the most red meat had double the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, compared to those who ate the least amount. And people who ate more protein overall, including other forms of meat and plant protein, also had a higher risk of the disease while eating fat did not seem to raise the risk, the researchers found. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune cells mistakenly attack healthy joints. Maybe eating meat somehow sets the body up to attack similar components, the researchers wrote in the latest issue of the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism. “It may be that the high collagen content of meat leads to collagen sensitization and consequent production of anticollagen antibodies,” Alan Silman and Deborah Symmons at the University of Manchester wrote in their report. “Meat consumption may be linked to either additives or even infectious agents, but, again, there is no evidence as to what might be important in relation to rheumatoid arthritis.” Silman and Symmons’s team worked with data from 25,000 men and women taking part in the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer. These volunteers kept a careful food diary for a week, had blood samples drawn to confirm the kinds of nutrients they ate most, and have been followed since for more than a decade. About 35 patients developed confirmed rheumatoid arthritis. The RA patients were more likely to have been former smokers and tended to eat less food containing vitamin C. The most striking difference, the researchers said, was in terms of eating red meat. “A high level of red meat consumption may represent a novel risk factor for inflammatory arthritis or may act as a marker for a group of persons with an increased risk from other lifestyle causes,” the researchers wrote. “It is unclear whether the association is a causative one,” the report said. (Source: Reuters, Dec 2004)