heart failure on a bun
June 14, 2014

Eating Processed Meat Linked To Increased Heart Failure Risk In Men

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Consumption of processed red meats such as cold cuts, hot dogs and bacon has been linked to an increased risk of heart failure and corresponding death in men, researchers reported this week in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

In the study, researchers from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences and the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet investigated, for the first time, the impact eating red meat products that have been smoked, cured, salted or treated with added preservatives had separately from unprocessed red meat.

“Processed red meat commonly contains sodium, nitrates, phosphates and other food additives, and smoked and grilled meats also contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, all of which may contribute to the increased heart failure risk,” senior author Alicja Wolk, a professor at the at the Karolinska Institutet’s Division of Nutritional Epidemiology, explained in a recent statement.

“Unprocessed meat is free from food additives and usually has a lower amount of sodium,” she added.

As part of the study, Wolk and her colleagues recruited 37,035 men who were between the ages of 45 and 79 and had no history of heart failure, ischemic heart disease or cancer. Each study participant completed a 96-item questionnaire on their food intake, as well as other lifestyle factors.

The investigators followed them from 1998 until they were diagnosed with heart failure, until they died, or until the study ended in 2010. After nearly 12 years of study, a total of 2,891 men were diagnosed with heart failure, and 266 died as a result of the condition.

After adjusting for other variables, the study authors found men who ate at least 75 grams of processed red meat each day had a 28 percent higher risk of heart failure in comparison to men who ate a maximum of 25 grams per day. Furthermore, those who consumed the most processed red meat were found to have a twofold increase of death resulting from cardiovascular failure compared to those in the lowest category.

In fact, for every 50 gram increase of daily processed meat consumption (equal to approximately one or two slices of ham), there is an eight percent increase in the risk of heart failure incidence rate, as well as a 38 percent increase in the risk of death. No increase in either rate was observed in men who ate only unprocessed red meat.

The surveys completed at the beginning of the study included questions on the consumption of sausages, cold cuts such as ham or salami, blood pudding and liver pate during the past year. It also polled study participants on the amounts of unprocessed meat (such as pork, veal, hamburger or ground-minced meat) consumed over that time.

The authors said their findings are consistent with the Physicians’ Health Study, which reported men eating the most total red meat faced a 24 percent increase in heart failure incidence rate versus those who ate the least total amount. They also noted they expected to see similar results in an ongoing study involving women.

“To reduce your risk of heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases, we suggest avoiding processed red meat in your diet, and limiting the amount of unprocessed red meat to one to two servings per week or less,” said lead author Dr. Joanna Kaluza, an assistant professor in the at Warsaw University of Life Sciences Department of Human Nutrition. “Instead, eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, nuts and increase your servings of fish.”