There may be another reason to be wary of eating too much red meat. High intake of iron from red meat may raise a person's risk of diabetes, new research suggests. Iron from other sources does not seem to have this effect, however.
The results of several studies have suggested a link between excessive body levels of iron and the development of diabetes. However, there has been little evidence from forward-looking studies to support this association.
To investigate, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues assessed the link between iron intake and type 2 diabetes in 38,394 men who participated in the Health Professionals' Follow-up Study.
The risk of type 2 diabetes increased as heme-iron intake from red meat sources rose. Heme-iron is a type of iron found in red blood cells. In contrast, total iron intake, heme-iron intake from non-red meat sources, and receiving blood transfusions were not associated with diabetes risk.
"Heme-iron intake from red meat appears to be associated with an increase risk of type 2 diabetes, but our study was unable to determine whether this association was due to heme-iron per se or to other components of red meat," the investigators state.
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