Hot Dogs, Salami May Raise Men's Heart Failure Risk
But unprocessed red meat was not implicated in this research
"Unprocessed meat is free from food additives and usually has a lower amount of [salt]," she added.
For the study, researchers collected data on more than 37,000 men, aged 45 to 79, with no history of heart failure, heart disease or cancer. All were participating in the Cohort of Swedish Men study.
Participants answered questions about diet and lifestyle. Processed meat questions dealt with consumption of sausages, cold cuts (ham/salami), blood pudding/sausages and liver pate over the last year. Unprocessed meat questions covered pork and beef/veal, including hamburger or ground-minced meat.
Then the men were followed from 1998 until they were diagnosed with heart failure or died, or until the study's end in 2010.
Overall, nearly 2,900 men were diagnosed with heart failure and 266 died from the condition.
The risk associated with heart failure appeared to rise 8 percent with every 1.7 ounces of processed red meat eaten daily, while the risk of dying from heart failure jumped 38 percent for each increase, the investigators found.
The researchers said they expect to find similar results in a study of women.
A group representing the meat industry disputed the findings.
"Heart failure and cardiovascular diseases are complex conditions that appear to have a variety of factors associated with them, from genetics to lifestyle," said Betsy Booren, vice president of scientific affairs at the American Meat Institute Foundation. "Attempts to link heart failure to a single type of food oversimplifies this complex disease," she said.
Booren believes the study makes other "questionable assumptions."
She said, "The data is based off a single food frequency questionnaire given at the start of a 12-year period and assumes this reflects a person's diet over the entirety of the study period. The researchers themselves note that the questionnaire is only 38 percent accurate."
Booren also believes that it is tough to point to cause-and-effect in such a study, which "struggles to disentangle other lifestyle and dietary habits from meat and processed meat consumption."
Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, who had no part in the study, agreed that the design of the study isn't suitable "for definitive assertions about cause and effect. But the implication of processed meat intake in the risk for heart failure is consistent with the overall weight of the evidence," he said.