(HealthDay News) – Processed meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of mortality, according to a study published in the March issue of BMC Medicine.

Sabine Rohrmann, PhD, from the University of Zurich, and colleagues examined the correlation between consumption of red meat, processed meat, and poultry with the risk of early death using data from 448,568 men and women without prevalent cancer, stroke, or myocardial infarction participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Participants, aged 35–69 at baseline, had complete information on diet, smoking, physical activity, and body mass index.

There were 26,344 deaths as of June 2009. The researchers found that after multivariable adjustment, high consumption of red meat correlated with significantly elevated all-cause mortality (hazard ratio (HR), 1.14 for 160+ vs. 10–19.9g/day). The association was stronger for processed meat (HR, 1.44 for 160+ vs. 10–19.9g/day). Higher all-cause mortality remained significant for processed meat only, after correction for measurement error (HR, 1.18 per 50g/day). If all participants had a processed meat consumption of <20g/day an estimated 3.3% of deaths could be prevented. Processed meat consumption was significantly associated with cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and “other causes of death.” There was no relationship between consumption of poultry and all-cause mortality.

“The results of our analysis support a moderate positive association between processed meat consumption and mortality, in particular due to cardiovascular diseases, but also to cancer,” write the authors.

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