In a new study from the University of Leeds, researchers found that consuming a 25g serving of processed meat a day, the equivalent to one rasher of bacon, is linked to a 44% increased risk of dementia.
They also found eating some unprocessed red meat, such as beef, pork or veal, could be protective, as people who consumed 50g a day were 19% less likely to develop dementia.
In the study, the team examined whether there is a link between consumption of meat and development of dementia, a health condition which affects 5%-8% of over 60s worldwide.
They used data from 493,888 UK Biobank participants.
The data included how often participants consumed different kinds of meat, with six options from never to once or more daily, collected in 2006-2010 by the UK Biobank.
Among the participants, 2,896 cases of dementia emerged over an average of eight years of follow up.
These people were generally older, more economically deprived, less educated, more likely to smoke, less physically active, more likely to have stroke history and family dementia history, and more likely to be carriers of a gene that is highly 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 findings suggest the risks from eating processed meat were the same whether or not a person was genetically predisposed to developing the disease.
Those who consumed higher 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 (including saturated fat).
Meat consumption has previously been associated with dementia risk, but this is believed to be the first large-scale study to examine a link between specific meat types and amounts, and the risk of developing the disease.
There are around 50 million dementia cases globally, with around 10 million new cases diagnosed every year. Alzheimer’s Disease makes up 50% to 70% of cases, and vascular dementia around 25%.
Its development and progression are associated with both genetic and environmental factors, including diet and lifestyle.
The team says further confirmation is needed, but the direction of effect is linked to current healthy eating guidelines suggesting lower intakes of unprocessed red meat could be beneficial for health.
If you care about dementia, please read studies about an aspirin a day does not keep dementia at bay and findings of this type of antibiotic drug may effectively treat common dementia.
For more information about dementia prevention and treatment, please see recent studies about statin and blood pressure drug combos may help reduce dementia risk and results showing that this food nutrient may help lower risk of Alzheimer’s, dementia.
The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. One author of the study is Huifeng Zhang.
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