Are the Men in Your Life Eating Processed Red Meat?
Do any of the men you care about eat processed red meat regularly? If so, you might want to convince them to stop. Why? Noshing on these foods could cause their heart to stop.
According to a recent report by the American Heart Association, men who eat even moderate amounts of processed red meats on a regular basis—think ham, salami, sausage, bacon and hot dogs—may experience an increased incidence of heart failure and an increased risk of death. This warning is not particularly new, but there's a renewed focus on this avoidable risk after the publication of a study in the journal, Circulation: Heart Failure, showed, again, that the risk is significant, especially among men.
Processed red meats are preserved by smoking, curing, salting, or adding preservatives. Evidently, none of this is good for the cardiovascular system. These foods tend to contain sodium, nitrates, phosphates and other additives. Smoked meats and meats grilled over fire tend to contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, too. All of these are implicated in cardiovascular disease, and may increase the risk of heart failure.
The aforementioned study is believed to be the first to look at red meat and processed red meat separately. The results, after 12 years of follow-up, were grim: Men who ate the most processed red meat (about 75 g or more each day—equivalent to about 2-4 slices of ham a day) had a 28% higher risk of dying from heart failure than men who ate the least amount of these foods daily. This was true even after adjusting for "multiple lifestyle variables".
The results confirm the findings of the Physician's Health Study, which determined that men with the highest consumption of these meats had a 24 percent higher risk of heart disease than men with the lowest intakes of processed red meats. Experts recommend avoiding these foods entirely, and limiting your intake of unprocessed red meat to two servings a week, or less.
Joanna Kaluza, Agneta Åkesson, and Alicja Wolk. Processed and Unprocessed Red Meat Consumption and Risk of Heart Failure: A Prospective Study of Men. Circ Heart Fail., June 12 2014 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.113.000921