Men who regularly eat ham, salami, bacon and hotdogs are at higher risk of developing heart failure than those who do not.
That's the finding of a new study
involving more than 37,000 Swedish men, ages 45 to 79, with no history of heart disease or cancer.
The study is the first to examine the difference in health effects between processed and unprocessed meats. Processed meats contain salt, nitrates and other additives.
The men filled out a questionnaire on their eating habits and other lifestyle factors in 1998. Twelve years later, researchers found that nearly 3,000 men who regularly consumed processed red meat had developed heart failure and 266 died of the condition.
en who ate the most processed meat were two times more likely to die of heart failure than those who ate the least amount. There was no increased risk among men who did not eat processed red meat.
Heart failure is a disease in which the heart gradually loses its ability to pump blood. Those who are diagnosed with heart failure usually die within five years.
Researchers expect similar findings in a study now being conducted with women.
To be on the safe side, doctors recommend people limit their consumption of processed red meat to no more than one or two servings per week.
The study was published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure
, an American Heart Association Journal.