Several slices of bacon a day may increase dementia risk, study suggests

Bacon Sandwich

Where: United Kingdom
When: 04 Mar 2014
Credit: Borrett Licensing/Cover Images

(Borrett Licensing, Cover Images )

LONDON (Reuters) — A new study has shown that eating one rasher — or portion consisting of several slices — of bacon per day can increase your risk of developing dementia.

Scientists from the University of Leeds's Nutritional Epidemiology Group analyzed data from almost 500,000 people and discovered that a 25g serving of processed meat each day — the same as one rasher of bacon — is associated with a 44% increased risk of the degenerative disease.

Meanwhile, their findings also showed that eating some unprocessed red meat, such as beef, pork or veal, could be protective, as participants who consumed 50g a day were 19% less likely to develop dementia.

"Worldwide, the prevalence of dementia is increasing and diet as a modifiable factor could play a role. Our research adds to the growing body of evidence linking processed meat consumption to increased risk of a range of non-transmissible diseases," said lead researcher Huifeng Zhang, a PhD student from the University of Leeds' School of Food Science and Nutrition.

Anything we can do to explore potential risk factors for dementia may help us to reduce rates of this debilitating condition.

–Professor Janet Cade, University of Leeds

Analyzing data from UK Biobank participants aged 40 to 69 taken between 2006 and 2010, the researchers found that the risks from eating processed meat were the same whether or not a person was genetically predisposed to developing the dementia.

Those who consumed higher amounts of processed meat were more likely to be male, less educated, smokers, overweight or obese, ate less vegetables and fruits, and had higher intakes of energy, protein, and fat.

"Anything we can do to explore potential risk factors for dementia may help us to reduce rates of this debilitating condition. This analysis is a first step towards understanding whether what we eat could influence that risk," added Professor Janet Cade.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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