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Processed meat

Processed meat is meat that has been smoked, cured or dried, usually to increase its shelf life. Over the past few years it has become increasingly clear that processed meat products have a negative impact on our health. These negative health effects have not yet been attributed to one specific component. Preservatives such as nitrates or nitrites are frequently added to processed meat products. Processed meat also often contains more saturated fatty acids than unprocessed meat. Examples of processed meat include ham, salami and liver sausage, as well as other meat products such as sausages, burgers and spiced or marinated meat. Minced meat is not classed as a processed meat. Most processed meat is red meat.

Processed meat and your health

There are a number of health effects associated with consuming processed meat.

Processed meat increases the risk of a stroke

Regularly eating processed meat (50 grams per day) increases the risk of a stroke. Processed meat products are often made from red meat and are also usually high in salt. Both factors increase the risk of a stroke.

Processed meat increases the risk of type 2 diabetes

A clear association has been found between eating processed meat and the risk of developing diabetes. Eating 50 grams of processed meat per day increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 20%.

In the majority of studies, no distinction is made in terms of the type of meat, but processed red meat appears to play a significant role.

Processed meat increases the risk of bowel cancer

Eating 50 grams of processed meat per day is associated with a 15% higher risk of bowel cancer. You should therefore limit your consumption of processed meat.

Processed meat increases the risk of stomach cancer

Eating 50 grams of processed meat per day is associated with a higher risk of stomach cancer.

Processed meat products are frequently high in salt and contain nitrates and nitrites to extend the shelf life of the meat. Nitrites and nitrates may react with the degradation products of (meat) proteins in the stomach, possibly leading to the formation of carcinogenic substances (nitrosamines).

iGene Passport

iGene offers you an insight into your personal risks of developing conditions and tells you whether consuming less processed meat may be particularly important for you to help prevent certain conditions. In addition, an iGene Passport provides you with information on what else you can do to reduce any risks. Here we focus on behaviour that will help you maximise the benefits to your health. In the publication below you can read more about what iGene can do for you.