Eating red and processed meat can increase your risk of heart disease

Time to ditch the sausages? Eating red and processed meat can increase your risk of heart disease – with each additional 50g boosting the chance by 18 per cent, study warns

Eating red and processed meat such as bacon, sausages and ham can significantly increase the risk of developing heart disease, a new large-scale study revealed. 

Coronary heart diseases, caused by narrowed arteries that supply the heart with blood, claim nearly nine million lives worldwide every year, health experts say.

This present a huge burden to health systems, and until now it was unclear whether eating meat increases the risk or whether it varied by type of meat.

Analysing data from 13 different studies involving 1.4 million people allowed the team from the University of Oxford to examine the impact of meat on health. 

They found that for every 50g per day of processed meat, such as bacon, ham and sausages eaten, the risk of coronary heart disease goes up by 18 per cent.

For unprocessed meat such as pork, lamb and beef, the risk increased by nine per cent over no red meat. There was no risk increase with poultry.

The team say their study didn’t investigate the cause, but suggest it could be down to higher concentrations of saturated fat in red meat and salt in processed meat. 

Eating red and processed meat such as bacon, sausages and ham can significantly increase the risk of developing heart disease, a new large-scale study revealed

Eating red and processed meat such as bacon, sausages and ham can significantly increase the risk of developing heart disease, a new large-scale study revealed

Coronary heart diseases, caused by narrowed arteries that supply the heart with blood, claim nearly nine million lives worldwide every year, health experts say

Coronary heart diseases, caused by narrowed arteries that supply the heart with blood, claim nearly nine million lives worldwide every year, health experts say

Coronary artery disease (CAD) clogs up the blood vessels

Coronary artery disease occurs when the major blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients become damaged.

CAD affects more than 1.6million men and one million women in the UK, and a total of 15million adults in the US. 

It is usually due to plaque and inflammation.

When plaque builds up, it narrows the arteries, which decreases blood flow to the heart.

Over time this can cause angina, while a complete blockage can result in a heart attack.

Many people have no symptoms at first but as the plaque builds up they may notice chest pains or shortness of breath when exercising or stressed. 

Other causes of CAD include smoking, diabetes and an inactive lifestyle. 

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Researchers analysed data from multiple studies, including one where participants completed detailed diet surveys and had their health tracked for 30 years.

They said high intakes of saturated fat found in unprocessed red meat increase levels of harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

They also say an increase in salt consumption, with high levels found in processed meats, raises blood pressure. 

Both LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure are well-established risk factors for coronary heart disease.

Previous work from the same team has also indicated that even moderate intakes of red and processed meat are associated with increased risk of bowel cancer.

Dr Keren Papier, co-lead author of the study, said red and processed meat have consistently been linked with bowel cancer and now can be linked to heart disease as well.

‘Therefore, current recommendations to limit red and processed meat consumption may also assist with the prevention of coronary heart disease.’

Dr Anika Knüppel, co-lead author of the study went beyond concerns over health, adding that meat production is also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

‘We need to reduce meat production and thereby consumption to benefit the environment,’ Dr Knüppel said. 

‘Our study shows that a reduction in red and processed meat intake would bring personal health benefits too.’

Currently in the UK, about 10 in 100 people would be expected to eventually die from coronary heart disease. 

Based on the findings from the present study and current red and processed meat intakes in the UK.

Researchers say if they all cut out one portion of processed and red meat per week, deaths from heart disease would go from 10 in 100 to nine in 100. 

This present a huge burden to health systems, and until now it was unclear whether eating meat increases the risk or whether it varied by type of meat

This present a huge burden to health systems, and until now it was unclear whether eating meat increases the risk or whether it varied by type of meat

The studies involved in this analysis were mostly based on white adults living in Europe or the USA. 

The research team say more data are needed to examine these associations in other populations, including East Asia and Africa.

The findings have been published in the journal Critical reviews in Food Science and Nutrition

OBESITY: ADULTS WITH A BMI OVER 30 ARE SEEN AS OBESE

Obesity is defined as an adult having a BMI of 30 or over.

A healthy person’s BMI – calculated by dividing weight in kg by height in metres, and the answer by the height again – is between 18.5 and 24.9. 

Among children, obesity is defined as being in the 95th percentile.

Percentiles compare youngsters to others their same age. 

For example, if a three-month-old is in the 40th percentile for weight, that means that 40 per cent of three-month-olds weigh the same or less than that baby.

Around 58 per cent of women and 68 per cent of men in the UK are overweight or obese. 

The condition costs the NHS around £6.1billion, out of its approximate £124.7 billion budget, every year.

This is due to obesity increasing a person’s risk of a number of life-threatening conditions.

Such conditions include type 2 diabetes, which can cause kidney disease, blindness and even limb amputations.

Research suggests that at least one in six hospital beds in the UK are taken up by a diabetes patient.

Obesity also raises the risk of heart disease, which kills 315,000 people every year in the UK – making it the number one cause of death.

Carrying dangerous amounts of weight has also been linked to 12 different cancers. 

This includes breast, which affects one in eight women at some point in their lives.

Among children, research suggests that 70 per cent of obese youngsters have high blood pressure or raised cholesterol, which puts them at risk of heart disease.

Obese children are also significantly more likely to become obese adults. 

And if children are overweight, their obesity in adulthood is often more severe.  

As many as one in five children start school in the UK being overweight or obese, which rises to one in three by the time they turn 10.  

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