Picture: Sausages 
Too many sausages affect
the lungs; © Pixelio.de

Rui Jiang, M.D., Dr.P.H., of Columbia University Medical Center in New York, and three associates showed that the “odds ratio” for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among individuals who consumed cured meat products 14 times or more per month was 1.93, as compared with those who did not consume cured meats. An odds ratio greater than 1 implies that the event is more likely to occur within that group.

“Cured meats, such as bacon, sausage, luncheon meats and cured hams, are high in nitrites, which are added to meat products as a preservative, an anti-microbial agent, and a colour fixative,” said Dr. Jiang. “Nitrates generate reactive nitrogen species that may cause damage to the lungs, producing structural changes resembling emphysema.”

COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. The study cohort consisted of 7,352 individuals who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted from 1988 to 1994 by the National Center for Health Statistics. The average age of participants was 64.5 years, and 48 percent were male.

“Individuals who consumed cured meats frequently were more likely to be male, of lower socioeconomic status, to be tobacco users, and were less likely to report physician-diagnosed asthma than individuals who never consumed cured meats,” said Dr. Jiang. “Those who consumed cured meats more frequently had lower intakes of vitamin C, beta-carotene, fish, fruits, vegetables, and vitamin or mineral supplements. They also had higher intakes of vitamin E and total energy.”

The hazard ratio from cured meats associated with lower lung function test results and increased odds for COPD did not change after researchers made adjustments for multiple dietary and other risk factors.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Thoracic Society