Photo: Flickr user dan4th
If you love sausages, hot dogs, and brats, you might be in for a shorter life, a new study suggests.The study analysed data from half a million men and women, as a part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. It was published in the journal BMC Medicine [PDF]. They found a link between “processed” meat — which includes all meat products such as ham, bacon, sausages, and minced meat that has been bought as a ready-to-eat product — and cardiovascular disease and cancer, they report.
Also, they found that the more processed meat you eat the more likely you are to die early (of anything). A previous study of just red meat came to a similar conclusion.
The researchers think the increased cancer risk could be due to the presence of preservatives like the salt, smoke and nitrate, as well as the high levels of fat in these meats.
“Risks of dying earlier from cancer and cardiovascular disease also increased with the amount of processed meat eaten,” study researcher Sabine Rohrmann, from the University of Zurich, said in a statement [PDF]. “Overall, we estimate that 3 per cent of premature deaths each year could be prevented if people ate less than 20g processed meat per day.”
The study had to be huge to allow the researchers to separate the effects of eating processed meats from other unhealthy habits these people have as well, the press release [PDF] says:
One of the difficulties in measuring the effect of eating meat on health is the confounding effect of lifestyle on health. Often vegetarians have healthier lifestyles than the general population, they are less likely to smoke, are less fat, and are more likely to be physically active. Only within a very large study can the consequences of eating meat and processed meat be isolated from other lifestyle choices.
Some good news, though, they found a small positive effect of a small amount of red meat in the diet. The researchers suggest this could be because meat is an important source of nutrients and vitamins.
We also did you a favour and calcualted how much bacon and hot dogs that actually adds up to. You have to click here to find out though.
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