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Red Meat Harmful to Kidneys?
Eating red meat may boost the risk for kidney failure, but swapping even one daily serving of red meat for another protein may reduce the risk, a large study from Singapore suggests.
Red meat intake — in this case, mostly pork — was strongly associated with an increased risk of end-stage renal disease, the loss of normal kidney function. The relationship was also “dose dependent” — meaning the higher the consumption, the greater the risk.
The association held up even after compensating for factors that could skew the results, such as lifestyle and other health conditions, the study authors noted.
“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 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,” said Koh, one of the study’s authors.
The study adds new data to a conflicting body of evidence on the relationship between protein intake, particularly red meat, and kidney disease, experts noted.
“It adds useful and additional information to our knowledge base, but I’m not sure if it necessarily tips the scale one way or another,” said Dr. Allon Friedman, a nephrologist and associate professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.
The study, published July 14 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, was supported by funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
The U.S. National Kidney Foundation has more on kidney disease prevention.