New Study Links Pork to Kidney Disease

Red meat consumption increases risk for renal disease while plant protein protects against it.


A new study published in the Journal of American Society of Nephrology found that the consumption of red meat—particularly pork—increases the risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The study was conducted on 63,257 Chinese individuals between the ages of 45 and 74, and found that participants who consumed the most red meat—the top 25 percent—had a 40 percent greater risk of developing CKD as compared to those who consumed the least. Conversely, the study also found that the consumption of plant-based protein sources—such as soy and legumes—were proven to be “slightly protective” against kidney disease. Senior author of the study Woon-Puay Koh, PhD revealed that while the participants in question were of Chinese origin, Western studies have previously supported her findings. Additionally, Koh stated that while pork may not be thought of as “red meat”—given effective advertising by the pork industry that swayed consumers to think of it as “the other white meat”—it is categorically classified alongside beef. “Our findings suggest that patients with early stages of CKD, or the general population worried about kidney health, can still maintain protein intake but [should] consider switching to plant-based sources,” Koh recommends. The consumption of meat has been linked to a number of ailments including higher mortality rates, while a plant-based diet has been proven to decrease the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and diabetes.

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