Biomarker-Calibrated Red and Combined Red and Processed Meat Intakes with Chronic Disease Risk in a Cohort of Postmenopausal Women

Cheng Zheng, Mary Pettinger, G. A.Nagana Gowda, Johanna W. Lampe, Daniel Raftery, Lesley F. Tinker, Ying Huang, Sandi L. Navarro, Diane M. O'Brien, Linda Snetselaar, Simin Liu, Robert B. Wallace, Marian L. Neuhouser, Ross L. Prentice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: The associations of red and processed meat with chronic disease risk remain to be clarified, in part because of measurement error in self-reported diet. Objectives: We sought to develop metabolomics-based biomarkers for red and processed meat, and to evaluate associations of biomarker-calibrated meat intake with chronic disease risk among postmenopausal women. Methods: Study participants were women who were members of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study cohorts. These participants were postmenopausal women aged 50-79 y when enrolled during 1993-1998 at 40 US clinical centers with embedded human feeding and nutrition biomarker studies. Literature reports of metabolomics correlates of meat consumption were used to develop meat intake biomarkers from serum and 24-h urine metabolites in a 153-participant feeding study (2010-2014). Resulting biomarkers were used in a 450-participant biomarker study (2007-2009) to develop linear regression calibration equations that adjust FFQ intakes for random and systematic measurement error. Biomarker-calibrated meat intakes were associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes incidence among 81,954 WHI participants (1993-2020). Results: Biomarkers and calibration equations meeting prespecified criteria were developed for consumption of red meat and red plus processed meat combined, but not for processed meat consumption. Following control for nondietary confounding factors, hazard ratios were calculated for a 40% increment above the red meat median intake for coronary artery disease (HR: 1.10; 95% CI: 1.07, 1.14), heart failure (HR: 1.26; 95% CI: 1.20, 1.33), breast cancer (HR: 1.10; 95% CI: 1.07, 1.13) for, total invasive cancer (HR: 1.07; 95% CI: 1.05, 1.09), and diabetes (HR: 1.37; 95% CI: 1.34, 1.39). HRs for red plus processed meat intake were similar. HRs were close to the null, and mostly nonsignificant following additional control for dietary potential confounding factors, including calibrated total energy consumption. Conclusions: A relatively high-meat dietary pattern is associated with somewhat higher chronic disease risks. These elevations appear to be largely attributable to the dietary pattern, rather than to consumption of red or processed meat per se.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1711-1720
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022


  • cancer
  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes
  • metabolomics
  • red and processed meat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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