Posted on 08/03/2013

Processed Meat Linked to Premature Death

Processed Meat Linked to Premature Death

Can processed meat increase your risk of dying?

Claims that eating a diet which is high in processed meat can increase the risk of premature death due to cancer and heart disease have been all over the headlines this week.

Stemming from a large Europe-wide study looking at diet and mortality, the research followed just under half a million people over approximately 12.7 years. Those who ate the most processed meat (160g or more per day) had a 44% increased risk of dying compared to those who ate the least (10g or less).

Following on from the findings, researchers estimated that if we ate less than 20g of processed meat (a single small piece of bacon) per day, then 3.3% of all deaths could be avoided. This statistic has been the pivotal point of the media scare, leading to headlines reporting that processed meat is directly responsible for 1 in 30 deaths.

A limitation of the study however, which was highlighted by its authors, is the possibility that other health and lifestyle factors could have contributed to the risk.

The study, which was carried out by researchers from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, the University of Zurich and other institutions across Europe was funded by a range of organisations including charities, government and academic sources. Published in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Medicine, it is a study that continues to prove that eating a diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables is a healthy option.

How did the media cover this news on processed meat?

Although the media coverage is generally representative of the findings, common sense is still advised. Eating the occasional bacon sandwich won’t kill you, but making in an everyday occurrence could increase health risks.

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