Processed meat may raise heart failure risk
Men who eat more processed red meat may be at increased risk of heart failure, according to a new study.
While previous studies have examined the effects of red meat consumption on areas of health such as cholesterol, lifespan and cancer risk, the new study is the first to differentiate between the effects of unprocessed versus processed meats. In the study, scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm followed more than 37,000 men between ages 45 and 79 between 1998 and 2010. Throughout the study period, the researchers collected data on how many men developed and/or died from heart failure and how much the men ate processed meats—such as sausages and deli meats.
The results of the study showed that the men who ate 75 g or more of processed red meat per day were 28 percent more likely to develop heart failure and twice as likely to die from heart failure, when compared with the men who ate 25 g or less per day. The researchers were able to further calculate that over the 12-year study period, the men who increased their consumption of processed meat by about 50 g a day—the equivalent of one or two extra slices of ham—also increased their risk of heart failure by 8 percent and risk of death from heart failure by 38 percent. The results showed no association between unprocessed meat consumption and risk of heart failure.
The study’s findings, published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation: Heart Failure, suggest that processed meat consumption should be avoided and unprocessed meat consumption should be limited in the interest of heart health. Researchers said they expect the same implications for women, for whom they are now conducting a separate study.