According to a study recently published in an American Heart Association journal entitled Circulation: Heart Failure, and summarized for an article completed by Science Daily, an excess of processed meats in male diets leads to increased risk of incident and death via heart failure.
Processed meats are preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives; none of these processes are beneficial to a diet, but do serve to measurably increase taste. Some popular examples include cold cuts, sausage, bacon and hot dogs. It is no mystery that processed meats are not a positive addition to diet; they commonly contain sodium, nitrates, phosphates and other food additives, as well as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
However, the Cohort of Swedish Men study has recently concluded that, while none of these factors are particularly positive in terms of diet, they may all contributed to an increased risk of heart failure. The study, which is the first to examine the effects of processed red meat in comparison to unprocessed meats, included just over thirty seven thousand male participants, ranging in age from forty-five to seventy-nine years old. All participants had no history of heart failure, ischemic heart disorder or cancer.
At the start of the study, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire on food intake and various lifestyle choices. From this information, the men were divided into two groups—those who would receive the excessive amount of over seventy-five grams of processed red meats daily and those who would be given an acceptable amount of less than twenty-five grams per day.
The health of the men was charted starting in 1998 and continued until the date of heart failure diagnosis, death or the end of the study in 2010. In the twelve years of observation, almost three thousand men were diagnosed and two hundred and sixty six died of heart failure. The group of men receiving over seventy-five grams of processed meat daily had a twenty-six percent higher risk of heart failure. Specifically, with every fifty grams of processed meats, risk of heart failure incident increased by eight percent and chances of death from heart failure rose thirty eight percent.
From these findings, researchers encourage all consumers avoid processed meat in diet in order to decrease the likelihood of heart failure. On the issue of unprocessed meats, which do contain fewer food additives and are usually lower in sodium, researchers still encourage moderation; limit diet to one or two services per week.