High red meat consumption has been associated with increased risk of some cancers and may also be a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. However, epidemiological studies of red meat consumption in relation to risk of stroke are very limited. Our objective was to examine the association between red meat consumption and stroke incidence in the Swedish Mammography Cohort.
We prospectively followed 34 670 women without cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline. Participants completed a self-administered questionnaire on diet and other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in 1997. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate multivariable-adjusted relative risks (RR) and 95% CI.
During a mean follow-up of 10.4 years, we ascertained 1680 incident cases of stroke, comprising 1310 cerebral infarction, 154 intracerebral hemorrhage, 79 subarachnoid hemorrhage, and 137 unspecified stroke. Total red meat and processed meat consumption was associated with a statistically significant increased risk of cerebral infarction, but not of total stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, or subarachnoid hemorrhage. The multivariable RR of cerebral infarction for the highest versus the lowest quintile of consumption were 1.22 (95% CI, 1.01-1.46) for red meat and 1.24 (95% CI, 1.04-1.49) for processed meat. Fresh (unprocessed) meat consumption was not associated with total stroke or with any stroke subtype.
Findings from this study suggest that red and processed meat consumption may increase the risk of cerebral infarction in women.