Poor Scottish men die young due to cheap red meat diet, study shows

© Jean-Paul Pelissier
Men living in some of Glasgow’s poorest areas are dying 30 years early due to their consumption of cheap red meat, according to new research.

The study, which was carried out by Glasgow University’s Institute of Cancer Sciences, showed that males who consumed red meat and lived in deprived parts of Scotland’s biggest city, have a life expectancy of 54 while those living in better areas survive into their 80s.

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High levels of phosphate found in red meat is linked to premature ageing and kidney damage as it is harder for the body to absorb, the study found.

While phosphate occurs in healthy foods such as eggs, dairy and vegetables, consuming too much of the substance can weaken telomeres - caps at the end of strands of DNA which protect chromosomes. They also help protect from serious illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.

The research, which was published in the journal Ageing, looked at people living in deprived areas covered by NHS Greater Glasgow and found that poorer men tended to eat less fruit and vegetables with a 7.4 percent higher phosphate intake over less deprived males, triggering health problems.

Professor Paul Shields, who carried out the research, said people living in poverty have bad diets because they can’t afford to eat healthier.

“It’s poverty, it’s not a personal choice,” he said. “Addressing poverty is the route to tackling this properly. You need to be able to afford to buy good-quality food. If you don’t and you can’t get quality red meat without additives, you’re going to have an issue.”

The latest findings come after the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that red and processed meats “probably” cause cancer.

The WHO study found that eating 50 grams of processed meat every day increased risks of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer.

Mortality rates in Glasgow are among the highest in Europe. The “Glasgow Effect” which refers to the combination of poor health, bad diets and low life expectancy, highlights the city’s needs for better lifestyles.

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