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Eating Processed Meats Raises Diabetes Risk in Men

Adapted from Diabetes Care, March 2002

Eating a diet high in processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, salami, or sausage may substantially increase a man’s risk of developing Type II Diabetes.

Type II Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body can no longer properly use insulin, a pancreatic hormone that helps shuttle the glucose (sugar) in food from the blood and into cells to be used as energy. The condition is closely related to obesity.

Experts have repeatedly warned Americans about the health risks associated with so-called Western diets – eating food high in commercialized animal fat and low in fruits and vegetables. But this is the first large study to look at the relationship between consumption of processed meats and diabetes, according to Harvard investigators.

In the current study, researchers found that eating processed meat 5 or more times per week increased a man’s risk of developing Type II Diabetes by nearly 50%. The investigators base their conclusions on data from a long-running study of male health professionals in the U.S., who were between the ages of 40 and 75 at the study’s outset. They found that frequent consumption of processed meats such as bacon or hot dogs is associated with increased risk of Type II Diabetes in men.

Those men who ate processed meats:

  • 2-4 times per week had 35% increased risk of diabetes
  • 5 times or more per week had almost 50% increased risk of diabetes
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