Food Additives in Processed Meat Linked to Cardiovascular Disease and Early Death

Scientists heading up a large, longitudinal, global study have found a link between eating processed meat and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death.

Study overview

Researchers studied the diets and health outcomes of 134,297 people from 21 countries spanning five continents, with a special emphasis on meat consumption and cardiovascular illnesses. The researchers followed study participants for almost a decade.  Participants’ dietary habits were recorded using food frequency questionnaires, while data was also collected on their mortality and major cardiovascular disease events. This allowed researchers to determine the associations between meat consumption patterns and cardiovascular disease events and mortality.

The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study was launched in 2003 and is the first multinational study that provides information on the association between unprocessed and processed meat intakes with health outcomes from low, middle and high-income countries. 

Results overview

The researchers found consumption of 150 grams or more of processed meat a week was associated with a 46 per cent higher risk of cardiovascular disease and a 51 per cent higher risk of death than those who ate no processed meat.  (The researchers also found moderate levels of consumption of non-processed meats had a neutral effect on health.)

Journal Reference:  Romaina Iqbal, Mahshid Dehghan, Andrew Mente, Sumathy Rangarajan, Andreas Wielgosz, Alvaro Avezum, Pamela Seron, Khalid F AlHabib, Patricio Lopez-Jaramillo, Sumathi Swaminathan, Noushin Mohammadifard, Katarzyna Zatońska, Hu Bo, Ravi Prasad Varma, Omar Rahman, AfzalHussein Yusufali, Yin Lu, Noorhassim Ismail, Annika Rosengren, Neşe Imeryuz, Karen Yeates, Jephat Chifamba, Antonio Dans, Rajesh Kumar, Liu Xiaoyun, Lungi Tsolekile, Rasha Khatib, Rafael Diaz, Koon Teo, Salim Yusuf. Associations of unprocessed and processed meat intake with mortality and cardiovascular disease in 21 countries [Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) Study]: a prospective cohort study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2021; DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa448