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Is processed meat another risk factor?

by Richard HoffmanAnd the University of Hertfordshire

Evidence for a link between processed meat and cancer has become strong enough for some organizations to recommend it Not eating anything. There is also mounting evidence of a link between processed meats and Type 2 diabetes. And now a new study has added to the list of woes for processed meat lovers by linking it to an increased risk of dementia. But this last link may not be entirely convincing.

The New studyFrom the University of Leeds, she used data from the UK Biobank, a biomedical database containing detailed genetic and health information for nearly half a million people, between the ages of 40 and 69. The researchers measured the number of times participants reported consuming processed and unprocessed meat, and then monitored cases of dementia over an eight-year period.

During this period, 2,896 participants developed dementia. Researchers calculated that eating 25 grams of processed meat per day – the equivalent of one piece of bacon – was linked to a 44% increased risk of developing dementia. And for those who had dementia, processed meat was associated with a 52% increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease – the leading cause of dementia. In contrast, they found that consuming 50 grams per day of unprocessed red meat such as beef, pork, or veal was protective, and was associated with a 19% reduced risk of developing dementia compared to people who ate meat once per week.

Finding adverse health effects from processed and unprocessed meats is unusual, especially given this Numerous studies Processed meat and red meat have been shown to increase the risk of cancer. So what could happen here?

Studies examining the association between consumption of a certain food and an increased risk of developing a disease do not demonstrate that there is a causal relationship. Many factors They are associated with an increased risk of developing dementia, and only a small group of them can be evaluated in any one study. This makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions about what may have been the cause of the observed effect.

The Leeds study used a broad definition of processed meat. It included not only pork, bacon and sausages, but also highly processed meat products, such as meat patties, kebabs, burgers, and chicken nuggets. It is likely that people consuming these highly processed meat products will also have a taste for other highly processed foods, such as crisps or muffins, which are part of the typical Western diet.

So highly processed meat products may be just a marker of an unhealthy diet, and it may be this, rather than bacon, ham or sausage, that increases the risk of developing dementia. Research shows that an unhealthy Western diet is linked to: Increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The harmful effects of a poor diet are believed to be on Gut microbiota (The community of trillions of microbes in our gut that help us maintain our well-being) is linked to neurological disorders, including dementia.

The degree of cooked meat was also not considered in this study. The high cooking temperature can cause the meat to overflow The negative impact On health. Most processed meats such as sausages and Cured meatIt is cooked over high temperatures until brown. This brown color is an indication that toxic compounds, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), have formed on the surface of the meat. AGEs cause neuritis in the brain. And in Animal models And the Human studies This is strongly linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

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at Scan 549 foodsFried bacon has been the highest for ages. Although the levels were high in steak, it was ten times lower than in bacon. AGE levels were lower in other red meats (although still high compared to most other foods) and dependent on how the meat was cooked. Since the way people eat meat varies a lot, it is perhaps not surprising that this is happening at this time There is no clear consensus About whether or not there is an association between eating meat and decreased cognitive function.

One of the distinguishing features of participants in the Leeds study who developed dementia was that they were more likely to be men. Although dementia is generally more common in women, it is more common among those under the age of 65 in men. A major reason for this is called Dementia onset It is believed to be Traumatic brain injury, Which occurs more in men who live in areas Social and economic deprivation. The relatively young age of study participants meant that most people with dementia would be classified as having early dementia, but brain injury was not evaluated as a possible cause in this study.

In addition to eating more processed meat, study participants who had dementia were more likely to be economically deprived, less educated, smokers, less physically active, and more likely to have a stroke and a family history of dementia. This is perhaps the most important finding from the study.

A higher consumption of highly processed meat may be just a representative marker of an overall less healthy lifestyle – something that no single study can address in any detail. If so, public health campaigns that address these matters Broader issues Essential for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, to help reduce the overall risk of developing dementia. Just reducing their consumption of bacon is likely to have a much smaller effect.Conversation

Richard Hoffman, Associate Lecturer, Nutritional Biochemistry, University of Hertfordshire

This article was republished from Conversation Under a Creative Commons license. Read the The original article.

Photo: the equivalent of bacon rasher was associated with a 44% increased risk of developing dementia. stockolutions / Shutterstock


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