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Do Cured Meats Aggravate Asthma?

I spotted this article last week and have been pondering it since. We (our family) used to eat a lot more cured meats than we do now, but we still do eat it on a regular basis. I've cut out the lunch meats – I used to always have them on hand when dd would take sandwiches to school for lunch. These days, it's mainly bacon and sausages.

It's very clear that the study did not prove causation, just some association.

Looking at close to 1,000 people with the respiratory disease, French researchers found that those who ate the most processed and cured meats were 76 percent more likely to see their asthma symptoms worsen over time compared to those who ate the least.

These symptoms include trouble breathing, chest tightness and shortness of breath, according to the report.

Cured meats are high in chemicals called nitrites to keep them from spoiling. These meats have been linked to a higher risk of other chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In addition, they were recently classified as carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, by the World Health Organization (WHO), said the study's lead researcher, Dr. Zhen Li.

"But there remains a gap regarding the spread of knowledge about the harms of processed meat from the research community to the public," said Li, who is with Inserm Paul Brousse Hospital in Villejuif, France.

Li cautioned that this study cannot prove that eating cured meats makes asthma worse, only that an association exists.

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Comments 1

  • K8sMom2002

    That's interesting, Kathy.

    Southerners do love our cured hams and smoked sausages, and yet we don't have one of the higher rates of asthma according to the . Still, I wonder if the southern population that DOES have asthma has more severe asthma? 

    Another point: the northeast other states may have more industrial pollution and air quality problems, so that may skew numbers. 

    I hope they do a follow-up study here in the US. It would be awesome to know of something in our diet that actively contributes toward asthma.