Processed meat increases diabetes risk

March 5, 2002 in Diabetes & Diabetes Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News

Processed meat increases diabetes risk

Eating a diet high in processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, salami or sausage may substantially increase a man's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to the results of a large study from Harvard University in Boston.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body can no longer properly use insulin, a hormone that helps shuttle the sugar in food from the blood and into cells to be used as energy.

The researchers found that eating processed meat, such as bacon or hot dogs, five or more times per week increased a man's risk of developing type 2 diabetes by nearly 50%. The research team tracked dietary habits and new diagnoses of type 2 diabetes among 42,504 men between 1986 and 1998. Those who ate processed meats two to four times per week had 35% increased risk.

In contrast, a diet rich in linoleic acid--a polyunsaturated fat found in large amounts in foods from plants including safflower, sunflower, corn and soybean oil--offered modest protection against the disease. Leaner, younger men with the highest intakes of linoleic acid-rich foods were 26% less likely than men with the lowest intakes to be diagnosed with the disease.

This study indicates that processed meats should be limited to even more occasional use, such as once a month.

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