The meat trade has again come under attack from health campaigners, who claim 45,000 deaths a year are due to excessive meat consumption.

A new study by researchers at Oxford University claimed tens of thousands of consumers died prematurely as a direct result of eating too much meat.

The researchers claimed that if average Britons ate meat just three times a week, deaths from heart disease, cancer and strokes would be reduced, saving the NHS up to £1.2bn a year.

“This research demonstrates the clear health benefits of cutting down on meat and dairy in the UK and quantifies this more comprehensively than ever before,” said Dr Miek Rayner, who led the research team.

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Second Opinion: Bring on the protein and, yes, fat (26 June 2010)