Next time you bite into a juicy burger, beware -- you could be taking years off of your life.
Older Americans who consume large amounts of red or processed meats are much more likely to die from heart disease or cancer, a new study published Monday shows.
Diets full of hot dogs, bacon and hamburger meat greatly decreased the overall health of the more than 500,000 participants in the study, who were evaluated over a 10-year period.
People who consumed about four ounces of hamburger meat -- a quarter-pound burger -- daily were 30 percent more likely to die over the decade they were followed, according to the study which tracked the health and habits of men and woman ages 50 to 71 years old.
Women who ate large amounts of red meat were more than 50 percent more vulnerable to heart disease, while men who ate the same amount were more than 27 percent more more likely to die from heart problems.
The risk for cancer jumped 22 percent for women and 20 percent for men who ate large-sized portions of red meat over the 10-year period.
"The bottom line is we found an association between red meat and processed meat and an increased risk of mortality," study author Rashmi Sinha of the National Cancer Institute told the Washington Post Tuesday.
Consuming large amounts of fish, chicken and turkey slightly decreased the risk of death among middle-aged Americans, the study also found.
"The uniqueness of this study is its size and length of follow-up," said Barry M. Popkin, a professor of global nutrition at the University of North Carolina, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine. "This is a slam-dunk to say that, 'Yes, indeed, if people want to be healthy and live longer, consume less red and processed meat.' "