Are all processed meats equally bad for health?

Eating too much bacon, sausages, hot dogs, canned meat, or lunch meat—meat that has been processed in some way to preserve or flavor it—is bad for health, according to experts.

A number of studies have found links between processed meat and various forms of cancer, as well as heart disease and diabetes. But experts quoted in a June 30, 2019 NBC News article noted that it’s not clear what amount of processed meat is safe and whether the type of processed meat makes a difference in terms of risk. For instance, studies don’t differentiate between red processed meat and white processed meat, like turkey or chicken, or between meat with nitrates and nitrate-free meat.

“The current evidence suggests the higher [the] intake of processed meat, the higher the risk of chronic diseases and mortality,” said Frank Hu, Fredrick J. Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He added, though that eating a small amount of processed meat occasionally, such as once or twice a month, is unlikely to significantly harm health.

Read the NBC News article: What exactly is a processed meat? And how much is safe to eat?

Learn more

WHO reports says eating processed meat is carcinogenic: Understanding the findings (The Nutrition Source)