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Clear link between processed meat and health problems

Published: 6:10PM Friday March 08, 2013 Source: ONE News

A new international study reveals a direct link between eating processed meat such as sausages, ham and bacon, and an alarming increase in the risk of heart disease and cancer.

The extensive study followed half a million people for up to 13 years and found a solid link between the extra fat and salt in processed meat and early death.

Fresh New Zealand grown, grass fed meat is high in nutrients but bacon, salami, ham and sausage is high in sodium and fat.

Auckland butcher Grant Williams says chemists and other experts determine what binders can be used to add weight so "rather than putting in too much meat, they're putting in soy, protein and water and things that bind fat".

People who eat a lot of processed meat often have less healthy lifestyles in general. But the new study has separated out factors like smoking and obesity and still found the more processed meat a person eats the greater their chance of early death.

The research shows those who eat around 160 grams of processed meat a day - about two sausages and a slice of bacon - are 44% more likely to die early. Their risk of death from cancer increases by 11% while their risk of death from heart disease is up by 72%.

Food policy expert Professor Tim Laing says the study puts two bodies of knowledge - cancer and heart disease - and both concluded for good health eat less processed meat products and more plants.

And the study recommends choosing unprocessed meat over processed, or at the very least better quality sausages.

"We like to joke that we put in a secret ingredient and we call that meat," said Williams.

"There's so much other rubbish that we could put in instead and drop the price down to silly prices."

The study recommends a safe amount of processed meat per day is 20 grams - about one rasher of bacon.

Read more in the journal BMC Medicine