611031 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Processed Meat Associated with Increased Risk of Diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease

    The development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease has been on the rise. These conditions increase the need for medical care and medicine and can decrease life expectancy. There are many factors that can contribute to the development of these diseases, such as dietary choices. Your overall diet may contribute to your risk by leading to excess weight or because it is rich in certain foods. For example, a diet high in sugar or saturated fats and low in fiber, fruits, and vegetables is more likely to lead to health problems. Meats have often been associated with increased risk of diseases, but studies have recently suggested that it may be specific types of meat that actually increase risk.
    Investigators from Harvard School of Public Health examined several past studies to look for any trends between the development of heart disease and diabetes and particular meat consumption. The study, published in Circulation, found that processed meat was associated with diabetes and coronary heart disease.

    About the Study

    The systematic review included 20 previous observational studies with a total of 1,218,380 adults. The studies tracked how much red and processed meats (eg, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, pepperoni, ham, packaged lunch meats) participants consumed, as well as which participants developed coronary heart disease and diabetes. In total, the studies reported:
    • 23,889 patients developed coronary heart disease
    • 10,797 patients developed diabetes
    When investigators compared the diet of the patients that developed these diseases with the diets of those that did not develop the diseases, they found:
    • Red meat intake (average 3.5 ounces per day) was not associated with the development of coronary heart disease or diabetes
    • Processed meat (average 1.8 ounces daily -1-2 slices deli meat or 1 hot dog daily) was associated with:
      • 42% higher risk of coronary heart disease
      • 19% higher risk of diabetes
      A daily total of 3.5 ounces of processed and red meats:
      • Not associated with increased risk of heart disease
      • Associated with a 12% higher risk for diabetes

    How Does This Affect You?

    This study was based on observational studies, which means a cause and effect relationship cannot be determined. The studies can simply suggest that a link may or may not exist. A systematic review increases the power of the studies by bringing together smaller studies and showing common patterns. A review with over a million people certainly carries some weight. However, combining several studies also introduces some statistical limits that could overestimate the effect. To confirm the effects, randomized trials would need to be done.
    Processed meats have significantly higher levels of sodium and nitrates than unprocessed meats. These factors are thought to increase risk of these diseases, but further studies will need to be done to confirm. Any food requires a balanced approach. Processed meats should be limited and not included everyday, but they do not necessarily need to be completely eliminated from your diet. Instead of processed meat, lean varieties of red meat may be a better option. They have a lower amount of fat and salt and are great sources of protein, iron, zinc, vitamins B6 and 12, and niacin. When choosing your meat, look for options that decrease the negative aspects like sodium and saturated fats—that way you can have your steak and eat it too!

    RESOURCES

    American Dietetic Association http://www.eatright.org/Public/

    American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org/

    References

    Micha R, Wallace SK, Mozaffarian D. Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Circulation. 2010 Jun 1;121(21):2271-83.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.