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Can Eating Red Meat Reduce Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Red meat and anemia
Assessment of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in France

Eating red meat is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer1 but is also a very easily absorbed source of iron. Iron deficiency is the number one nutritional deficiency in the world in terms of years of life lost in perfect health (DALY). This deficiency can lead to anemia, known as iron deficiency, particularly in children, adolescents and adult women.
The objective of this study was to quantitatively evaluate using a probabilistic model, iron deficiency, iron deficiency anemia and the burden of disease  expressed in DALYs *, in France, by age group and by gender. The model took into account the distribution of absorbed iron intakes (at population level, according to age groups and gender), the distribution of iron requirements established by the European Food Safety Authority and the iron status ** in France.
It has been estimated that nearly half a million people suffer from anemia due to iron deficiency in France; this corresponds to 16 DALYs per year per 100,000 inhabitants. These cases of anemia mainly affect menstruating women aged from 25 to 44. The consumption of 100 g of red meat would reduce the number of people deficient in iron without however eliminating it completely.
The work is now focused on realistic red meat consumption scenarios adapted to different age groups and genders that would reduce iron deficiency anemia without increasing the risk of colorectal cancer (linked to excessive meat consumption, see previous work by the 'team1).

Partners : This study was performed in SECALIM (Nantes), concerning the risk-benefit assessment of red meat, and in ToxAlim (Toulouse), thanks to the expertise of Professeur Tounian, from the service of paediatric gastroenterology and nutrition of Trousseau Hospital in Paris.
Funding: Département Inrae MICA and Région Pays de La Loire.
Publication: De Oliveira Mota, J., P. Tounian, S. Guillou, F. Pierre and J.-M. Membré 2019. Estimation of the Burden of Iron Deficiency Anemia in France from Iron Intake: Methodological Approach. Nutrients 11(2045).

1. De Oliveira Mota, J., G. Boué, S. Guillou, F. Pierre and J.-M. Membré 2019. Estimation of the burden of disease attributable to red meat consumption in France: Influence on colorectal cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Food and Chemical Toxicology 130: 174-186.
* DALYs (Disability Adjusted Life Years) : nombre d’années perdues du fait d’une mort précoce et / ou d’une diminution de la qualité de vie résultant des incapacités consécutives à une maladie
** Statut du fer : il permet de déterminer si les individus sont déficients en fer. Il est défini par le dosage d’indicateurs biochimiques qui sont le plus généralement la concentration d’hémoglobine et de ferritine dans le sang et la comparaison avec des niveaux seuils qui définissent la carence.