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Hot Dogs, Salami May Raise Men's Heart Failure Risk

But unprocessed red meat was not implicated in this research

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Hey, guys, listen up: Steaks may be a safer bet heart-wise than hot dogs and salami, a new study suggests.

Men who regularly eat processed red meats may raise their risk of developing heart failure and dying from it, Swedish researchers say.

And as consumption of processed red meats goes up, the study concluded, so does the risk for heart failure, which means the heart can't pump blood as well as it should.

Men who ate roughly 2.6 ounces a day -- the equivalent of 2 or 3 slices of ham -- of processed red meats had a 28 percent higher risk of heart failure and more than twice the risk of death from heart failure compared with men who ate less than one ounce of processed meat daily, the researchers found.

However, the study doesn't prove a steady diet of bacon or ham will cause heart failure, it can only point to an association, said one expert not involved in the research.

Still, no association was found between unprocessed red meat such as beef or pork and heart failure, the researchers said.

"Heart failure is one of the most common, costly and deadly cardiac conditions," said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a spokesman for the American Heart Association. It's expected that more than 800,000 new cases of heart failure will occur in the United States this year, and about 50 percent of those diagnosed will die within five years.

Based on their findings -- published online June 12 in Circulation: Heart Failure -- the researchers recommend not eating processed red meat at all and having only one to two servings or less of unprocessed red meat a week.

Processed red meats, which are preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives, typically contain salt, nitrates, phosphates and other food additives. "Smoked and grilled meats also contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, all of which may contribute to the increased heart failure risk," study co-author Alicja Wolk, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said in a journal news release.

"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.

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