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Processed meat linked to early death

7th March 2013

The British Heart Foundation has suggested people opt for leaner cuts of meat after a major study showed that eating sausages, ham, bacon and other processed meats appear to increase the risk of dying young.

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The study of half a million people across 10 European countries, which was published in the journal BMC Medicine, concluded diets high in processed meats were linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer and early deaths.

Researchers said salt and chemicals used to preserve the meat may damage health.

Tracy Parker, a heart health dietitian with the British Heart Foundation, said people who ate processed meat often made other “unhealthy lifestyle choices.”

“They were found to eat less fruit and vegetables and were more likely to smoke, which may have had an impact on results,” she said.

“Red meat can still be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. Opting for leaner cuts and using healthier cooking methods such as grilling will help to keep your heart healthy.”

The study showed 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.

Dr Rachel Thompson, from the World Cancer Research Fund, said the research added to the body of scientific evidence highlighting the health risks of eating processed meat with her organisation recommending people avoid processed meat.

 

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