Islamabad - Eradicating meat from your diet could add nearly four years to your life, experts have suggested.

Going vegetarian for at least 17 years, extends a person’s life expectancy by 3.6 years, a study has shown. Eating red and particularly processed meats on a daily basis was linked to rising mortality rates.

Investigations of more than 1.5 million people found death from all causes was higher for those who regularly eat meat.

Vegetarians live for around four years longer than people who eat meat, a new study has revealed. Physicians from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona analysed six studies that showed the effects of meat and vegetarian diets on mortality. 

Primary care physicians were then given evidence-based guidance about whether they should discourage patients from eating meat. Their recommendation was that physicians should advise patients to limit animal products when possible and consume more plants than meat.

Professor Brookshield Laurent, from the department of family medicine and clinical sciences at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, said: ‘This data reinforces what we have known for so long - your diet has great potential to harm or heal.

‘This clinical-based evidence can assist physicians in counselling patients about the important role diet plays, leading to improved preventive care, a key consideration in the osteopathic philosophy of medicine.’

Also, while findings for US and European populations differed to an extent, the data found steep rises in mortality - even during the smallest increases in red meat consumption.

Eating red and particularly processed meats on a daily basis was linked to rising mortality rates. Investigations of more than 1.5 million people found death from all causes was higher for those who regularly eat meat

As part of the same 2014 study, more than one million people were followed over a number of different yearly time spans - ranging from five and a half years to 28 years.

Researchers considered the link between eating processed meat like bacon, sausage, salami, hot dogs and ham on their diet as well as unprocessed red meat like pork, lamb and unsalted beef. It was discovered that processed meat significantly increased the risk of all cause mortality - with possible links to cardiovascular disease and ischemic heart disease.

A further review of more than 500,000 participants also found that those with a very low meat intake had a decreased risk of 25 per cent to nearly 50 per cent of all-cause mortality compared with those with a high meat intake.

Professor Laurent added: ‘This clinical-based evidence can assist physicians in counselling patients about the important role diet plays, leading to improved preventive care, a key consideration in the osteopathic philosophy of medicine.’

Benefits of cycling, walking outweigh air pollution effects

The health benefits of cycling and walking outweigh the harmful effects of air pollution, a study has suggested. Air pollution contributes to 40,000 early deaths each year in the UK and we gulp in more of it when we exercise. On the other hand, regular exercise reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and several cancers.

The University of Cambridge study showed that even in cities with high pollution levels, the benefits outweigh the risks. The researchers used computer simulations to compare data on different kinds of physical activity and different levels of air pollution in locations around the world.

It found that for an average air pollution concentration in an urban area, the tipping point - when the risks begin to outweigh the benefits - comes after a huge seven hours of cycling or 16 hours of walking a day.

It is far beyond what most people would ever do.

“Even in Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world - with pollution levels 10 times those in London - people would need to cycle over five hours per week before the pollution risks outweigh the health benefits,” said Dr Marko Tainio, the lead author of the study.

He added: “We should remember, though, that a small minority of workers in the most polluted cities, such as bike messengers, may be exposed to levels of air pollution high enough to cancel out the health benefits of physical activity.”

The average air pollution level for cities around the globe is 22 micrograms per cubic metre, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). In London the air pollution level was recorded at 16 micrograms per cubic metre in 2011.