Processed And Cured Meats Worsens Asthma, Is The Study True?
A French health study, titled French Epidemiological study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma (EGEA), suggests that eating four or more portions of processed (cured) meats a week may worsen symptoms like wheezing - but this does not amount to an asthma attack.
An asthma attack is defined as a debilitating and sudden loss of normal lung function that may require emergency treatment. Fewer than 1,000 French adults (42% with asthma) found evidence that eating sausage, ham or dried sausage four times a week worsened asthma symptoms.
Compounds called nitrites were the alleged culprit according to the researchers. These are used to preserve meat and they have been linked to inflammation in the airways, as reported by Health US News.
Of course, overeating of cured mean may also cause obesity. It has been suggested that obesity increases inflammation throughout the body. Consequently, it could affect the lungs, so the researchers adjusted for this in their analysis.
Aside from asthma, processed meats have also been previously linked to bowel cancer. Thus, researchers concluded that a healthy diet for people with asthma is as critical for people avoiding plenty of fresh food, including vegetables, and low in sugar, saturated fat and salt, according to NHS UK.
The study had collected data on more than 2,000 people. The team focused on 971 people for whom complete dietary, weight, asthma symptom scores and demographic data were obtained until 2011-2013.
Food frequency questionnaires were used to measure the diet of the subjects. The researchers asked about consumption of cured meats, such as ham, sausage and salami. Consumption was classified as low for one or fewer servings a week; medium for one to four servings; and high for four or more, according to International Business Times.
It was found out that on the later period, asthma symptoms had worsened over the prior year for 20 percent of the study participants.
14 percent was reported to have experienced worse asthma symptoms from those who ate one or less servings of processed or cured meat. Meanwhile, 20 percent said their asthma symptoms had worsened to those eating one to four servings a week,
Findings also showed that in the group eating four or more weekly servings, 22 percent reported they experienced worsening asthma.
But like all research, everything is not perfect. For one, the dietary data and asthma symptoms were recalled by the participants, and memory may not be accurate. The worsening asthma could also be explained by smoking or other breathing problems caused by chronic lung disease, which has asthma-like symptoms.
However, prevention is better than cure. Dr. Alan Mensch already advises all his patients whether with asthma or not, to eat fewer processed meats.
"But I don't say eating fewer processed meats will make your asthma better," said Dr. Alan Mensch. He is senior vice president for medical affairs at Northwell Health's Plainview and Syosset Hospitals in New York.