• Maria Pfund, Nutritional Consultant

Processed Meat Warning

Processed meat can be tempting, since it is so easily available and can be used to fix up quick meals or snacks. To be clear, processed meat is meat to which something has been done to extend its shelf life, change its taste, or make it more palatable in some way; traditional processes include curing and salting. For example, ham, pastrami, salami, and hot dogs are considered processed meats. However, before you succumb to temptation, remember its health consequences.

According to a study published on the journal of BMC Medicine, processed meats are linked to earlier death. “Those eating more than 160g of processed meat a day - around two sausages and a slice of bacon - were 44% more likely to die over a typical follow-up time of 12.7 years than those eating ~20g.”

Prof Sabine Rohrmann as cited by Gallagher (2013), limiting processed meat to no more than 20g of a day could prevent 3% of the premature deaths. There are other studies that support the risk of eating processed meat, and link its consumption to cancer and heart disease. World Cancer Research Fund stated that there would be 4,000 fewer cases of bowel cancer if people had less than 10g a day of processed meat. As a reference, two slices of bacon weighs ~70 g.

Take-Home Message

Processed meat could increase your risk of early death and cancer. Try to avoid it or at least limit it as much as possible.


Gallagher, J. (2013, March 7). Processed meat 'early death' link. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/health-21682779

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