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Processed Red Meat Linked to Heart Failure

Posted Jul 19 2014 10:07pm

Processed meats are preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. 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.  Examples include cold cuts (ham, salami), sausage, bacon and hot dogs.  Alicja Wolk, from the Karolinska Institutet (Sweden), and colleagues utilized data collected in The Cohort of Swedish Men study, that included 37,035 men 45-79 years old with no history of heart failure, ischemic heart disease, or cancer. Participants completed a questionnaire on food intake and other lifestyle factors and researchers followed them from 1998 to the date of heart failure diagnosis, death or the end of the study in 2010.  After almost 12 years of follow-up, heart failure was diagnosed in 2,891 men and 266 died from heart failure. Data analysis revealed that the men who ate the most processed red meat (75 grams per day or more) had a 28% higher risk of heart failure compared to men who ate the least (25 grams per day or less).  Men who ate the most processed red meat had more than a 2-fold increased risk of death from heart failure compared to men in the lowest category. Importantly, for each 50 gram (about 1-2 slices of ham) increase in daily consumption of processed meat, the risk of heart failure incidence increased by 8% and the risk of death from heart failure by 38%.  The risk of heart failure or death among those who ate unprocessed red meat didn't increase.  The study authors warn that: “processed red meat consumption, but not unprocessed red meat, is associated with an increased risk of [heart failure].”

Joanna Kaluza, Agneta Akesson, Alicja Wolk.  “Processed and Unprocessed Red Meat Consumption and Risk of Heart Failure: A Prospective Study of Men.”  Circulation: Heart Failure,  June 12, 2014.

  
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