Study links eating processed meat to increased risk of dementia

Washington:

A new study found that eating just one slice of bacon per day could increase your chances of developing the disease by 44%.

The results of the study, titled “Meat Consumption and Risk of Incident Dementia: A Cohort Study of 493,888 British Biobank Participants,” were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Scientists at Leeds University’s Nutritional Epidemiology Group used data from 500,000 people, finding that consuming a 25g serving of processed meat per day, or the equivalent of a slice of bacon, is associated with a 44% increased risk of developing the disease.

However, meat lovers don’t need to despair, as their findings also showed that eating unprocessed red meat, such as beef, pork, or veal, could be protective, as people who consumed 50g per day were 19% less likely to develop dementia. .

Researchers were exploring a potential link between meat consumption and the development of dementia, a health problem that affects 5-8% of people over 60 worldwide.

Principal researcher Huifeng Zhang, doctoral student in the School of Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds University, said: “Worldwide the prevalence of dementia is increasing and diet as a modifiable factor may play a role. A role Our research contributes to body growth Evidence linking the consumption of processed meat to an increased risk of various noncommunicable diseases.

The research was supervised by Professor Janet Cade and Professor Laura Hardie, both in Leeds.

The team studied data provided by UK Biobank, a database containing in-depth genetic and health information from half a million UK participants aged 40 to 69, to investigate associations between consumption of different types of meat and the risk of developing dementia.

The data included how often participants ate different types of meat, with six options ranging from never to once or more times a day, collected in 2006-2010 by UK Biobank. The study did not specifically assess the impact of a vegetarian or vegan diet on the risk of dementia, but it did include data from people who reported not eating red meat.

Among the participants, 2,896 cases of dementia developed over an average of eight years of follow-up. These people were generally older, more economically disadvantaged, less educated, more likely to smoke, less physically active, more likely to have a history of stroke and familial dementia, and more likely to be carriers of a strong gene. associated with dementia. More men than women were diagnosed with dementia in the study population.

Some people were three to six times more likely to develop dementia due to well-established genetic factors, but the results suggested that the risks of consuming processed meat were the same whether a person was genetically predisposed to developing the disease. .

Those who ate larger amounts of processed meat were more likely to be male, less educated, smokers, overweight or obese, had lower intakes of vegetables and fruits, and had higher intakes of energy, protein and fat. fat (including saturated fat).

Meat consumption was previously associated with the risk of dementia, but it is believed to be the first large-scale study of participants over time to examine a link between specific types and amounts of meat and risk. to develop the disease.

There are around 50 million cases of dementia worldwide, with around 10 million new cases diagnosed each year. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 50 to 70% of cases and vascular dementia about 25%. Its development and progression are associated with both genetic and environmental factors, including diet and lifestyle.

Zhang said, “Further confirmation is needed, but the direction of the effect relates to current healthy eating guidelines suggesting that lower consumption of unprocessed red meat may be beneficial to health.”

Professor Cade said, “Anything we can do to explore potential risk factors for dementia can help us reduce the rates of this debilitating disease. This analysis is a first step in understanding whether what we eat could influence this risk.

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