April 18, 2007
Cured Meat Consumption Speeds Lung Aging?

Nitrites in foods might accelerate the aging of lungs and cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Frequent consumption of cured meats results in lower lung function test scores and increases the odds of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a large cross-sectional survey of adults in the U.S.

The study results appear in the second issue for April 2007 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

Rui Jiang, M.D., Dr.P.H., of Columbia University Medical Center in New York, and three associates showed that the "odds ratio" for developing COPD among individuals who consumed cured meat products 14 times or more per month was 1.93, as compared with those who did not consume cured meats. An odds ratio greater than 1 implies that the event is more likely to occur within that group.

"Cured meats, such as bacon, sausage, luncheon meats and cured hams, are high in nitrites, which are added to meat products as a preservative, an anti-microbial agent, and a color fixative," said Dr. Jiang. "Nitrates generate reactive nitrogen species that may cause damage to the lungs, producing structural changes resembling emphysema."

What I'd like to see: studies on blood oxidative stress indicators with people who eat cured meat versus fresh meat. Do hot dog eaters have more signs of free radicals in their blood?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 April 18 11:17 PM  Aging Diet Studies

Ned said at April 19, 2007 10:42 AM:

Maybe. I read the abstract but couldn't access the whole article online. When it comes to causing COPD, smoking is the 800 pound gorilla. The authors say they controlled for tobacco use, but I wonder how well. Could it be just an epiphenomenon, that is, that people who smoke eat more cured meat? Sorting out the causal effect of cured meats in a smoking population is like trying to determine the weight of a locomotive engineer by first weighing the locomotive with him in it and then reweighing it without him. Possible, but pretty tough.

rsilvetz said at April 19, 2007 12:21 PM:

Ned, in the same vein, there is the 200 lb gorilla of arachidonic acid metabolism/prostaglandin-based inflammation which should be high in these patients.

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