Study: Moderate link between processed meat consumption and early death

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 7, 2013

Everything in moderation is good, right? How about when the moderate adjective is given to the chance of death at an early age?

According to a new study published on the BMC Medicine Journal, the relation between consumption of processed meats is moderately related to early deaths in humans. The study concluded that diets high in processed meats were linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer and early deaths.

Along with the findings about consumption of processed meat and early death, researchers also discovered that people who ate a lot of processed meat were also more likely to smoke, be obese and have other behaviours that damage their health.

If a person ate more than 160g of processed meat a day, which is equal to two sausages and a slice of bacon, they were at least 44% more likely to die over the next 12.7 years. People who in contrast ate about 20g a day had much lower chances of suffering an early death.

For the span of the study, nearly 10,000 people died from cancer and 5,500 from heart problems as a consequence of abusive processed meat consumption.

Previous studies had already hinted at the relation between eating a lot of red processed meat and serious health problems. Back in in 2007 a study performed by the World Cancer Research Fund showed strong evidence that eating processed meat, such as bacon, ham, hot dogs, salami and some sausages, increased the risk of getting bowel cancer. According to Dr. Rachel Thompson, there would be 4,000 fewer cases of bowel cancer if people ate less than 10g of processed meats a day.

The study by analyzed 448,568 men and women who did not suffer from prevalent cancer, stroke, or myocardial infarction. Researchers evaluated their diet, and habits such as smoking, physical activity and body mass index. Those men and women were between 35 and 69 years old. Scientists used a method known as Cox proportional hazards regression to examine the association of meat consumption with all-cause and cause-specific mortality.

By mid 2009, June 2009, 26,344 deaths were identified as consequence of consuming large amounts of processed red meat. After carefully analyzing the data, researchers determined that a high consumption of red meat “was related to higher all-cause mortality”. An interesting revelation of the study is that men and women who consume larger amounts of processed meat actually eat less fruits and vegetables than people who intake less meat. This may be the reason why people who feed themselves according to the Mediterranean diet while eating considerable amounts of meat and exercising regularly do not suffer from serious health problems.

“The results of our analysis support a moderate positive association between processed meat consumption and mortality, in particular due to cardiovascular diseases, but also to cancer,” concluded the study.

The study published on the BMC Medical Journal points to a National Institutes of Health-American report which found positive associations between both red and processed meat consumption with risk for all-cause mortality. In that report, the association was stronger between red meat intake and early death than for processed meat consumption and health problems.

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Red Meat Responsible for 1 in 10 Early Deaths

by Rebecca Smith
Telegraph
March 12, 2012

The Department of Health was last night urged to review its guidance on red meat after a study found that eating almost half the daily recommended amount can significantly increase the risk of dying early from cancer and heart disease.

Small quantities of processed meat such as bacon, sausages or salami can increase the likelihood of dying by a fifth, researchers from Harvard School of Medicine found. Eating steak increases the risk of dying by 12%.

The study found that cutting the amount of red meat in peoples’ diets to 1.5 ounces (42 grams) a day, equivalent to one large steak a week, could prevent almost one in 10 early deaths in men and one in 13 in women.

The scientists said that the government’s current advice that people should eat no more than 2.5 ounces (70 grams) a day, around the level the average Briton already consumes, was “generous”.

Dr Frank Hu, co-author of the study, said: “Given the growing evidence that even modest amounts of red meat is associated with increased risk of chronic disease and premature death, 2.5 ounces (70 grams) per day seems generous. The bottom line is that we should make red meat only an occassional rather than regular part of our diet.”

Red meat often contains high amounts of saturated fat, while bacon and salami contain large amounts of salt. Replacing red meat with poultry, fish or vegetables, whole grains and other healthy foods cut the risk of dying by up to one fifth, the study found.

The study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine followed more than 100,000 people for around 28 years asking them periodically about their diet and lifestyle.

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