Study Links Worsening Asthma Symptoms to Too Much Cured Meat

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There may be a link between worsening asthma symptoms and a diet high in cured meats, suggests a 2017 observational study in Thorax.

Researchers analyzed data from 971 adults in France (average age, 43 years), nearly half of whom had asthma. Between 2003 and 2007, participants completed a questionnaire that asked about weekly consumption of cured meats. A serving was defined as two slices of ham, one slice of sausage, or two slices of dried sausage. Participants were also asked about their weight and about asthma-associated symptoms they experienced during the previous year.

Follow-up questionnaires completed between 2011 and 2013 showed that participants who reported consuming more than four servings of cured meat per week (about a third of participants) were more likely to report that their symptoms had gotten worse over time than were those who reported consuming less than one serving; 22 percent and 14 percent, respectively. The investigators also considered the impact of overweight and obesity on their findings, but estimated they accounted for a small percentage of the increased risk.

These findings don’t prove that eating a lot of cured meat (hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage, and some deli meats) worsens asthma symptoms, but given their association with colorectal and other cancers, limiting consumption is good advice-for everyone.