Today Show spotlights red meat dangers and health risks study

Eating a small portion of red meat increases the risks of premature death, according to a new medical study out of Harvard University.

The study tracked what 120,000 Americans ate for 20 years, and found that people who ate red meat no bigger than a deck of cards had a greater chance of dying by 12 percent.

The chance of dying from heart disease goes up by 16 percent, and the chance of dying from cancer goes up 10 percent. The risks only get higher with processed meat like bacon and hot dogs.

"Both processed and unprocessed red meat had higher risks of premature deaths," said Dr. Walter Willett, a chairman for the Harvard Department of Nutrition. "The processed meat was definitely somewhat higher."

The study suggested substituting red meat with foods like fish, poultry, nuts and beans can help a person live longer.

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