Study finds processed meat, diabetes link in men

Monday, April 1, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Eat too many hot dogs and they can bite you back. A study shows that a diet heavy in processed meats, including hot dogs and bacon, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by about 50 percent in men, researchers say.

A group of Harvard School of Public Health researchers analyzed the dietary habits of thousands of men and found that those who frequently ate bacon, hot dogs, sausage, baloney or other processed meats were 46 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than men who less of the food.

"We not proposing to ban hot dogs -- it is just a matter of moderation," said Dr. Frank B. Hu, senior author of the study in the journal Diabetes Care. "People should reduce the frequency of eating processed meats."

Hu said that big increase in risk for diabetes 2 came among those who ate the processed meats five times or more per week. For some, it was every day.

"That's too much," he said. "We should change that eating pattern."

The data in the research came from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, a project that started in 1986 by collecting dietary information from 42,504 men, aged 40 to 75, who were healthy -- free of diabetes, heart disease or cancer.

The men in the study were followed for 12 years and the researchers compared the dietary pattern of those who developed type 2 diabetes with those who did not. Hu said the results were adjusted for the known effects of such things as smoking, obesity, fat intake and physical activity. After these adjustments, he said, it was clear that eating lots of hot dogs and other processed meats was an independent risk factor for diabetes.

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