Processed Meat Connected to Premature Death

by | March 19, 2013 at 2:37 PM | Food, Health

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A study from BMC Medicine reveals bad news for meat-lovers.

By Megan Taylor Morrison, TheActiveTimes.com

While vegetarians may have numerous health advantages over their meat-eating counterparts, new research suggests there are healthier ways to be an omnivore.

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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.

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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 sandwich 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.

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Furthermore, once researchers factored in lifestyle factors, the consumption of red meat was not associated with significantly higher mortality rates.

You can find the full study here.

Via The Atlantic.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.