A recent European study, published in BMC Medicine, confirms what American studies have already shown – consumption of processed meats above a certain level increases the chances of heart attack, cancer, and death.
Researchers reviewed data of close to 450,000 men and women in Europe, between the ages of 35 to 69. They followed theses people for about 20 years, during which 27,000 deaths were observed. A correlation was found between consumption of processed meat and higher mortality rates:
“We estimated that 3.3% (95% CI 1.5% to 5.0%) of deaths could be prevented if all participants had a processed meat consumption of less than 20 g/day. Significant associations with processed meat intake were observed for cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and ‘other causes of death.”
What’s in processed meats that could cause problems? Saturated fats are known to increase the risk of heart disease, and some of the preservatives in bologna and salami are potentially carcinogenic (See our post on nitrites). The sodium content is usually very high too.
Are we saying never ever eat cold cuts again? Not necessarily. But you need to be aware that they are not health food. If your daily lunch is a Subway sub with sliced meats, perhaps you should revise your eating strategy