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Cured Meats May Worsen COPD

Eating More Than 1 Slice of Ham Per Day May Raise Risk of COPD Flares
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What Is It About Cured Meats? continued...

Barry Make, MD, says it could be the salt, not the nitrites, that is driving this. He is a pulmonologist at National Jewish Health in Denver. These meats are loaded with salt. “COPD patients can have heart problems and may need to be cautious about their salt intake, which could lead to readmission,” he says.

These meats may be attractive to people with COPD. “They don't have to be prepared so if you have trouble cooking, like many people with COPD do, they are easy and accessible.”

Len Horovitz, MD, is not a surprised by the findings. He is a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “Nitrites are pro-oxidants that damage tissues, and we are now seeing this in the lung,” he says. “We are what we eat and it matters to organs beside our gastrointestinal tract.”

Along with quitting smoking and other lifestyle changes, not overdoing it on cured meat is good advice for people with COPD, Horovitz says.   

Neil Schachter, MD, says more study is needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn about how cured meats affect COPD risk or its progression. He is a professor of pulmonary medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. “We are a long way from proving that cured meats have a role in COPD, and that modifications to the diet will change that risk factor,” he says.

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