Researchers in France have made the link between the consumption of processed (cured) meat products and severity of asthma symptoms.
Processed meats refers to meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation. Most processed meats contain pork or beef, but processed meats may also contain other red meats, poultry, offal, or meat by-products such as blood. Examples of processed meat include hot dogs (frankfurters), ham, sausages, corned beef, beef jerky as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces.
The researchers analysed data from the French prospective EGEA study (baseline: 2003–2007; follow-up: 2011–2013) to see the effect of varying levels of processed meat intake (<1, 1–3.9, ≥4 servings/week) on changes in asthma symptom severity. Researchers concluded that higher processed meat intake was associated with worsening asthma symptoms over time, through a direct effect and to a lesser extent an effect mediated by weight (Body Mass Index or BMI).
The study findings add to the existing body of evidence that processed meat consumption has a profoundly negative effect on our health. This comes one year after the World Health organization (WHO) reviewed over 800 studies and then classified processed meats as a group 1 carcinogen, known to cause cancer. This is the same classification as tobacco smoking, and asbestos. About 34 000 cancer deaths per year are directly attributable to diets high in processed meat.
According to the Canadian Pork Council, The average Canadian consumes 22 grams of processed meat a day.