Processed Meat Dangers: New Study Reveals Its Major Impact On Health

processed-meatBiomed Central has unveiled the results of a study of a half million people in 10 countries that shows an association between cancer, cardiovascular disease and processed meat. The study known as EPIC (the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) followed people aged 35 to 69 for an average of 13 years and is reported in the BMC Medicine journal.

Important Findings

  • A person's risk of premature death - increased risk of all-cause mortality - increased with the amount of processed meat eaten.

  • Men and women who ate the most processed meat ate the fewest fruit and vegetables and were more likely to smoke.

  • Men who ate a lot of meat also tended to have high alcohol consumption.

  • People who ate a lot of processed meat were also more likely to be obese, smoke, or make other lifestyle choices that can have a negative effect on health. Even accounting for diet, smoking, physical activity, and body mass index, processed meat was shown to have a major impact on health.

  • A small amount of red meat appeared to be beneficial to health possibly because meat is a good source of vitamins and other nutrients.



One challenge in researching processed meats effect on health is the other lifestyle factors involved. Vegetarians tend to make healthier lifestyle choices in general.

"Risks of dying earlier from cancer and cardiovascular disease also increased with the amount of processed meat eaten, says analysis leader Sabine Rohrmann. Overall, we estimate that three percent of premature deaths each year could be prevented if people ate less than 20 grams of processed meat per day."

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

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