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More Processed Meats = 18% Increased Risk of Early Death

Aficionados of diners and drive-ins regard their greasy processed patties, bacon and hot dogs as simply “to die for.” Turns out, they may be right. A large scale study of nearly half a million Europeans drawn from ten countries were followed, on average, for nearly 13 years, then dietary patterns as recorded in food journals were compared with health outcomes. As of June 9th, 2012, over 26,000 study participants — one in 17 — had passed away. But if you were among those with the highest intake of processed meat (more than 5.6 ounces — or the equivalent of two slices of bacon daily) you were 44% more likely to be among the fallen, than those eating less than 0.7 ounces. These were the results after adjusting for other unhealthy habits that were also higher among deli fans — obesity, smoking, drinking, etc.

While the 44% represents increased risk of dying from any cause — heart disease and cancer have significant associations. This backs up earlier research which found that consumers who ate the most processed meat were 67% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. As little as one small hot dog or four pieces of bacon a day translates to up to a 38% increased risk of stomach cancer, another study found. Moreover diets high in processed foods — not just meats — have been linked to 58% higher depression rates. So keep happier, and healthier, for as long as possible by keeping your diet simple, natural, with plenty of whole foods like fruit and vegetables.

Published April 1, 2013

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