Processed Meat Connected To Premature Death
In a recent study of half a million people in 10 European countries, scientists found a significant association between processed meat and premature death. The results were published in BMC Medicine and—most fascinating of all—they weren’t the results the researchers set out to find.
The study’s original finding was that the consumption of processed meat went along with other unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as drinking a lot of alcohol and eating fewer fruits and vegetables. However, due to the large sample size, researchers were also able to isolate meat consumption from other factors. The result? A stronger association between processed meat and premature death.
Researchers estimated that a reduction in daily processed meat consumption to under 20 grams—about a matchbook-sized portion—could prevent three percent of premature deaths in a given year. Processed meats include bacon, sausage, hot dogs and sandwhich meat. Poultry and rabbit did not have the same affect.
On the other hand, those who ate little-to-no unprocessed red meat, such as beef and pork, were found to have higher all-cause mortality than those who ate these foods in moderation. Researchers believe this is due to the vitamins and nutrients in red meat, such as iron, zinc and essential fatty acids. Furthermore, once researchers factored in lifestyle factors, the consumption of red meat was not associated with significantly higher mortality rates.