Thursday, March 18, 2010

(Podcast) Are you ordering a pound of heart attack at the deli?

So just in case you needed another reason to avoid processed meats along comes Harvard's Dr. Renata Micha and her colleagues who at a recent American Heart Association conference reported on their meta-analysis that looked at over 1.2 million adults and the risk of their developing heart disease and diabetes as a function of their consumption of red and processed meats.

While for red meat there was no found linkage, for processed meats the results were staggering. Every 50 grams (1.76oz) of processed meat consumed per day increased the risk of developing heart disease by 42% and diabetes by 19% and even a single weekly serving seemed to increase risk of heart disease by 3-5%.

What really struck me was the fact that she was presenting at an American Heart Association conference.

The AHA, like Canada's Heart and Stroke Foundation, runs a front-of-package labeling program with less than strict criteria. Currently there are 114 different processed meat products that carry the AHA's Heart Check. Here in Canada there are 44 different processed meat products carrying the Heart and Stroke Foundation's ignoble Health Check.

I asked Dr. Micha about her thoughts regarding public health organizations formally endorsing and promoting the consumption of processed meats as healthy and while she was very diplomatic with her answer, her hope that policies may change consequent to the research is not something I'd be holding my breath for here in Canada. Sadly the Heart and Stroke Foundation doesn't appear to care too much about research when it comes to administering their Health Check program.

Click below to download the audio file, or you can listen on the embedded player (won't work with email subscribers) and hear Dr. Micha discuss this latest salvo against highly processed foods.

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