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Asthma attack warning: Why you must avoid processed meats

Lana Bandoim's picture

Are you risking your health and worsening your asthma symptoms by eating processed meats on a regular basis?


A new study reveals that eating processed meats like bacon or sausage can make asthma symptoms worse. If you eat more than four portions of cured meat every week, then you are increasing the risk of having an asthma attack. Does this mean you have to eliminate salami, ham, bacon and other favorites from your diet?

The new asthma study results

Researchers examined 971 people in the new asthma study and compared their symptoms before and after eating processed meats. They found that 76 percent of the study participants who ate cured meats had worse asthma symptoms. In addition, they noted that the amount of processed meat had an impact on symptoms, so eating more than four portions led to more problems.

The researchers focused on symptoms such as chest tightness, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and wheezing over a period of 12 months. They asked participants to track dietary intake and score their asthma problems. Although there was a concern that obesity was a contributing factor to worsening symptoms, the study showed that being overweight only accounted for 14 percent of the issues.

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What are processed meats?

Processed or cured meats are in a broad category, but they generally include items such as bacon, ham, salami, sausages, hot dogs and other items. They have been modified with preservatives and other compounds to make them shelf-stable, so they last longer. Companies are constantly updating the recipes, and experimenting with new ingredients.

Previous research has linked cured meats to several types of cancer including colorectal, pancreatic and other types of cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) made the decision to categorize processed red meat as a carcinogen after multiple studies. However, scientists continue to debate what is raising the risk of cancer with suggestions ranging from chemicals in the meat to N-nitroso compounds made from nitrite and nitrate.

Should you change your diet?

If you suffer from asthma, the new study indicates that you may benefit from cutting down or eliminating the amount of processed meat in your diet. Researchers warn that eating more than four portions of ham, sausage, bacon or other cured meats may increase the risk of worsening asthma symptoms. The general recommendation is to eat less than 70 grams or 2.46 ounces of processed meat a day. The key is to eat a balanced diet with more fruits and vegetables.