A study recently published in the Thorax medical journal revealed a connection between processed meats and a worsening of asthma effects. The paper is built on previous works about the health effects of cured meats and anecdotal evidence that asthma sufferers had increased problems after consuming processed meats.
Landmark Study Links Processed Meats to Asthma
The landmark study was the first of its kind linking processed meat to asthma. Utilizing a novel approach to handling a longitudinal health study, researchers at the Paul Brousse Hospital in France were able to publish the first definitive study showing that consumption of processed meat can lead to complications that reduce the quality of life for asthma sufferers.
Links between cancer and processed meats have previously been made through multiple studies. This latest paper comes to prove that those who ate more than 4 servings of processed meat per week experienced a worsening of asthma conditions.
Researchers found that the consumption of processed meats such as sausages, bacon, ham, or any meat that was previously salted, smoked or treated with any kind of preservatives could worsen the effects of asthma. Researcher Zhen Li of Paul Brousse Hospital in France conducted a decade-long research study on a sample of 1,000 individuals diagnosed with asthma. A baseline was set between 2003 and 2007, and a follow-up study was completed between 2011 and 2013.
All volunteers were divided into groups according to their frequency of processed meat consumption. Participants who ate one serving of cured meats per week, which translates to 2 slices of salami, bacon, or ham were included in the low intake category. Those who ate between 1 and 4 servings, or 2 to 8 slices of meat products, were categorized as having a medium intake. A weekly consumption of more than 4 servings of cured meats was labeled as a high intake.
The key question for the study was as follows:
“Is high cured meat intake, a risk factor for several diseases, associated with worsening asthma symptoms in adults? Does body mass index (BMI) act as a mediator in this association?”
Participants were given asthma symptoms scores of 0 to 5 based on the number of respiratory symptoms they suffered from in the past 12 months. These scores were mediated for BMI to provide a true look at how cured meats affect asthma.
The study utilized a direct acyclic graph to display the model used, while statistical analysis was completed using SAS Version 9.3. After performing the statistical analysis, it was shown the increasing numbers of cured meat servings in a week had a corresponding increase in asthma problems. The paper didn’t make any distinction between the types of cured meats consumed.
The results showed that 76 percent of asthma sufferers who included such products in their diets experienced a worsening of symptoms such as tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Moreover, the ill effects worsened in the case of the patients who continued to consume the products as opposed to the participants who gave up on processed meats.
Further studies may be attempted in order to determine the exact ingredient that causes these manifestations, but the most likely explanation comes in the form of nitrates. These preservatives are often used in the preparation process and are known to cause breathing problems and airwaves inflammation.
What You Need to Avoid Processed Meat Health Problems
Not only are processed meats also related to a worsening of asthma symptoms, they are also linked to cancer. Previous studies found that eating only 50g of cured meat per day, about 2 slices of bacon, increases one’s chances of developing colon cancer by an astounding 18 percent. Nitrates are the number 1 suspect in this case, as well. The best way to avoid a worsening of asthma symptoms is to reduce the number of processed meat servings eaten in a week. Even dropping to just one serving a week, 2 slices of cured meats, has been shown to offer some asthma relief and a lower risk of cancer.
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