Processed Meats, but Not Red Meat, Linked With CV Deaths

Posted by on Mar 10, 2013
in the category Nutrition

Source: Medscape News Today

New data come from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, involving 10 countries and almost half a million men and women, was published online in BMC Medicine in March 2013. This study concluded that high consumption of processed meat was associated with a near doubling of the risk of all-cause mortality, compared with low consumption, over a mean of 12 years. Risk of cardiovascular death was increased by more than 70% among people eating more than 160 g/day, as compared with those eating 10 to 19.9 g/day. Risk of cancer deaths was 43% higher among the highest consumers of processed meats. High processed-meat consumption was associated with an 18% greater risk of all-cause mortality. Interestingly, while an increased mortality was seen among the highest consumers of red meat in general, the risk for red meat was much lower than that of processed meats in this study.

The authors point out that processed meats tend to contain more salt and additives, often as part of the smoking or curing process. Some of these are believed to be carcinogenic or precursors to carcinogenic processes.

Dr Sabine Rohrmann (University of Zurich, Switzerland) and colleagues also point out that high consumption of processed meat typically went hand in hand with other unhealthy behaviors, including smoking, low physical-activity levels, and low consumption of fruits and vegetables. "Overall, we estimate that 3% of premature deaths each year could be prevented if people ate less than 20 g of processed meat per day," Rohrmann commented in a press statement. "Although we did not find a statistically significant association between unprocessed red-meat consumption and mortality in our studies, the two US studies did," Rohrmann said. "Therefore, we would not say that there is definitely no association [between red-meat consumption and CVD]. What I think our studies show is that it's okay to eat a moderate amount of meat--300 to 600 g per week as recommended by many nutrition societies--for intake of some important minerals and vitamins; however, a balanced vegetarian diet is, of course, okay as well."

Other studies have also singled out processed meats as hazardous to health. This is one of the largest studies and the results should be taken seriously.The take home message is pretty clear. Limit consumption of processed meat. Check your kitchen cupboard today.