Hot Dogs Damage Your Lungs

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A new study found that regular consumption of bacon, hot dogs, sausages, bologna and other cured meats may more than double the risk of developing severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Researchers looked at over 7,000 participants in the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey, age 45 years and older, to see if what they ate impacted their lung function. A significant trend was observed for worsening lung function with increasing frequency of processed meat consumption. When they compared the 20% of people who consumed processed meats the least frequently, with the 20% that consumed them most frequently, they found severe COPD was 2.41 times as likely in those consuming the most processed meats. The authors theorized the nitrites in cured meats may generate free radicals that damage lung tissue and lead to emphysema. Too much salt appears to increase the risk of asthma. The authors of this study conclude “Frequent cured meat consumption was associated independently with an obstructive pattern of lung function and increased odds of COPD.”1 Processed meats are already arguably among the worst food choices because most are high in salt, saturated fat, cholesterol, and are calorie dense with no fiber in addition to the nitrites. Their high salt content promotes high blood pressure, the number one risk factor for stroke and major cause of heart disease. A diet high in meat and salt has been shown to promote kidney stones, weaken bones and promote osteoporosis. Processed meats promote weight gain, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Their high saturated fat content raises LDL-cholesterol levels and promotes coronary artery disease. Red meat and processed meat consumption have been linked to colo-rectal cancers and more recently to breast and prostate cancer too. Cured and smoked meats have long been known to promote stomach cancer. Reflux esophagitis has been linked to a diet high in salt and obesity making processed meats a likely cause of esophageal cancers too.  So we really didn’t need another reason to eliminate processed meats from our diets but we got one anyway.
By James J. Kenney, PhD, RD, FACN
1. Am J Resp Crit Care Med 2007;175:798-804

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