Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Recent research has proven that higher intake levels of processed red meat are linked to higher risks of heart failure. While the dangers of red meat have been confirmed by science over and over again, this most recent study out of the Institute of Environmental Medicine in Stockholm, Sweden takes a closer look at processed red meats.
The processed red meats examined in this study are often preserved through curing, salting, adding preservatives, or smoking. Cold cuts, like salami and ham, as well as sausage, bacon, hot dogs, pepperoni, and many of the meats used in frozen dishes are some examples of common processed red meat.
The study, which evaluated 37,035 men without a history of heart failure, heart attack, or other impeding conditions, began in 1998. The researchers followed the participants over the course of 12 years – if they lived that long. The conclusion from this long and thorough study is primarily based on the finding below:
The men who consumed the most processed red meat in the study were twice as likely to die from heart failure as the men who consumed the least amount of processed red meat in the study. The men who ate the most processed red meat were 28% more likely to suffer from heart failure in general than the men who ate the least amount of processed red meat.
This isn’t news in science community nor should it come as a surprise to most people at large. A study from the University of Hawaii in 2005 found that the consumption of processed meats increased the likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer by 67%. A report from the American Institute for Cancer Research a few years ago demonstrated the link between processed red meat consumption and an increased risk for colon cancer. That research was cited in a class-action lawsuit against hot dog manufacturers. The fraud the manufacturers were accused of in the lawsuit was failure to inform consumers of the increased risk of cancer caused by hot dog consumption.
While studies support that assertion that any kind of red meat should probably be eaten in moderation, the research is clear on processed red meat: avoid it like the plague. That might be easier said than done in a society where bad-for-you food like bacon has been glorified and made into a novelty of a sort. But eating food simply because it tastes good without understanding its history, impact, or health consequences is part of the reason why citizens of the USA are suffering so greatly from conditions like obesity and heart disease. Our bodies are machines that need good fuel in order to run well. The longer we promote taste as the primary objective for eating, the longer we will go on collectively suffering at the hand of food products that shouldn’t be consumed.
If you’re interested in cutting down on your processed red meat intake, there are plenty of alternatives worth exploring – like tempeh sausage and vegan grain meat, like the kind sold from Field Roast.