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A man carries a plate of hot dogs.
Just in time for those Father’s Day cookouts, researchers have released a study linking serious disease risk with processed meats.
This study, done in Sweden, shows that mean who ate the most processed red meat had a 28 percent higher risk of heart failure and twice the risk of dying over a 12-year period compared to men who ate the least. The highest intake in this case was equivalent to a 75-gram jumbo frank.
The findings, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure, add to a body of studies that implicate both processed meat and red meat with a higher risk of heart disease and cancer — the top two killers of people in most developed countries. Earlier this week, researchers found more evidence linking red meat and breast cancer.
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Dr. Alicja Wolk of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues studied 37,035 men 45-79 years old who had no history of heart disease or cancer at the start.
The men filled out a questionnaire on what they ate and how often. For the Swedish study, processed meats included sausages, cold cuts and liver pate — foods that, like U.S. favorites such as hot dogs and bacon, can be high in sodium, nitrates, phosphates and other food additives.
When these foods are grilled they can also contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which can damage DNA and cause both heart disease and cancer.
For each 50 grams of this meat the men ate daily, the incidence of heart failure rose by 8 percent. Unprocessed red meat, such as steaks and burgers, did not raise this risk.
The American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society both recommend limiting red meat. The U.S. government says people should eat a plant-based diet, keeping meat portions small.
First published June 12 2014, 1:49 PM
Maggie Fox is senior health writer for NBC News and TODAY, writing top news on health policy, medical treatments and disease.
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She's a former managing editor for healthcare and technology at National Journal and global health and science editor for Reuters based in Washington, D.C. and London.
She's reported for news agencies, radio, newspapers, magazines and television from across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe covering news ranging from war to politics and, of course, health and science. Her reporting has taken Maggie to Lebanon, Syria and Libya; to China, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Pakistan; to Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia and to Ireland and Northern Ireland and across the rest of Europe.
Maggie has won awards from the Society of Business Editors and Writers, the National Immunization Program, the Overseas Press Club and other organizations. She's done fellowships at Harvard Medical School, the National Institutes of Health and the University of Maryland.