Here’s some troubling news on the scientific front for bacon lovers. In fact, if you enjoy eating processed meats generally, take a deep breath.
A new study out of Great Britain suggests that eating just 25 grams of processed meat a day — the equivalent of one thin slice of bacon — is associated with a nearly 44% increased risk of developing dementia.
Researchers note this is just the latest evidence about the health dangers of eating too much processed meats. Previous studies have associated such a diet with cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
What is processed meat? It’s food that’s been modified by methods such as curing, salting or smoking to extend its shelf life or improve taste. Common foods in this category include hot dogs, cold cuts, pepperoni and chicken nuggets from fast food joints, to name a few.
Scientists reached these findings after analyzing data from the UK Biobank, a database with extensive health and genetic information for half a million people ages 40 to 69. The data for this study were collected from 2006 to 2010, with eight years of follow-up.
Interestingly, the study found the risk of dementia among the processed meat eaters was the same regardless of their genetic risk of the disease.
Those who consumed unprocessed red meat such as beef and veal fared better. Participants who ate 50 grams of these foods a day were 19% less likely to develop dementia. Investigators caution that all these results require further research.
Even so, if you’ve been bringing home the bacon, consider replacing it with some wholesome fruits and veggies. It just might improve your health.