To investigate, researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden looked at 34,670 women 39 to 73 years old. All were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at the beginning of the study, in 1997.
During 10 years of follow-up, 1,680 of the women (4 percent) had a stroke.
When the researchers divided women into five groups based on how much red meat they reported eating, they found that those in the top fifth, who ate at least 86 grams (3 ounces) daily had a 42 percent greater risk of stroke than women in the bottom fifth (less than 36.5 grams, or 1.3 ounces, daily).
Likewise, women who ate the most processed meat (at least 41.3 grams, or 1.5 ounces, a day) had a 24 percent greater risk of having a stroke than women who consumed the least (less than 12.1 grams, or less than half an ounce a day).
Interestingly, researchers found that red meat increased the risk of stroke in non-smokers, but not smokers, and in women who didn't have diabetes, but not in women with diabetes. For non-smokers and non-diabetics in the top tenth of red meat consumption, the risk of cerebral infarction was 68 percent greater.
In the past, diets heavy in red meat have been linked to a number of health problems, including an increased risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
These latest findings were reported in the journal Stroke.
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