The next time you have breakfast, you may want to skip the bacon and sausage. That’s because of a new study showing a strong link between eating processed meats and having a higher risk of dying young. And by “processed” meats, we mean things like hot dogs, sausages, sliced bologna, salami, and even bacon!
For this new study, researchers tracked more than half a million people for 13 years. And during that time, people who ate more than 160 grams of processed meat a day were 44 percent more likely to die, compared to people who ate less than 20 grams a day! Or, to put that another way: people who ate the equivalent of two sausages and a slice of bacon daily died sooner than those who ate less than one slice of bacon a day.
As you might guess, researchers say the problem with processed meat is that it’s loaded with salt and chemical additives to make it last longer. And many studies show that those additives are associated with a higher risk for things like heart disease, and cancer. In fact, according to the World Cancer Research Fund, at least 3 percent of premature cancer deaths could have been prevented if people didn’t eat processed meat.
And next to quitting smoking, avoiding processed meat is now the second best way to cut your risk of getting cancer! But that doesn’t mean you should stop eating all meat. Because lean meat – including beef, lamb, and pork – are good sources of protein, B-vitamins, and minerals like iron and zinc, which are proven to have health benefits. But the key is to vary your diet with other forms of protein – including chicken, fish, beans, nuts, and lentils.