You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

New link cited in red meat’s health risk

NEW YORK — Researchers have found a surprising new explanation of why red meat may contribute to heart disease.

The study by scientists at the Cleveland Clinic, an academic medical center, discovered that what damages hearts is not just the thick edge of fat on steaks, or the delectable marbling of their tender interiors.

Continue reading below

The real culprit may be a little-studied chemical that is burped out by bacteria in the stomach after people eat red meat. It is quickly converted by the liver into yet another little-studied chemical called TMAO that gets into the blood and increases the risk of heart disease.

The results of extensive experiments in both humans and animals, published Sunday in Nature Medicine, have persuaded scientists not connected with the study to seriously consider this new theory of why red meat, eaten too often, might be bad for people.

Tests found that a burst of TMAO shows up in peoples’ blood after they eat steak, but not vegans who had not had meat for at least a year but consumed the same meal. TMAO levels also turned out to predict heart attack risk in humans, the researchers found.

Researchers say the work could lead to new treatments for heart disease — perhaps even an antibiotic to specifically wipe out the bacterial culprit — and also to a new way to assess heart disease risk by looking for TMAO in the blood.

Loading comments...
Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of