Sausages, ham, bacon and other processed meats appear to increase the risk of dying young, a study of half a million people across Europe suggests. It concluded diets high in processed meats were linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer and early deaths.
‘Opting for leaner cuts’
The researchers, writing in the journal BMC Medicine, said salt and chemicals used to preserve the meat may damage health. The British Heart Foundation suggested opting for leaner cuts of meat.
The study followed people from 10 European countries for nearly 13 years on average. It showed people who ate a lot of processed meat were also more likely to smoke, be obese and have other behaviours known to damage health. However, the researchers said even after those risk factors were accounted for, processed meat still damaged health.
‘Less healthy lifestyle’
One in every 17 people followed in the study died. However, those eating more than 160g of processed meat a day – roughly two sausages and a slice of bacon – were 44% more likely to die over a typical follow-up time of 12.7 years than those eating about 20g. In total, nearly 10,000 people died from cancer and 5,500 from heart problems.
Prof Sabine Rohrmann, from the University of Zurich, told the BBC: “High meat consumption, especially processed meat, is associated with a less healthy lifestyle. But after adjusting for smoking, obesity and other confounders we think there is a risk of eating processed meat. Stopping smoking is more important than cutting meat, but I would recommend people reduce their meat intake.”
She said if everyone in the study consumed no more than 20g of processed meat a day then 3% of the premature deaths could have been prevented. The UK government recommends eating no more than 70g of red or processed meat – two slices of bacon – a day.
Do you eat a lot of processed meat everyday? Are you planning on cutting back?
Source: BBC News
Image: Science Daily