CPC Questions Conclusions of Public Health Study

CANADA - The Canadian Pork Council is questioning the conclusions of a Harvard School of Public Health study which has linked the consumption of processed meats to a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 20 May 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

After reviewing nearly 1,600 studies, researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health concluded eating processed meats, such as bacon, sausage or processed deli meats, was associated with a 42 per cent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 per cent higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

But they did not find any higher risk of heart disease or diabetes among individuals eating unprocessed red meat, such as from beef, pork, or lamb.

Canadian Pork Council manager of nutrition and food industry relations, Mary Ann Binnie, notes the study relied on epidemiological research and it is hard to draw substantial conclusions about one type of food through this type of work.

Mary Ann Binnie-Canadian Pork Council

This research really is for providing information about distribution and determinants of disease for further study but it does not establish cause-and-effect.

I think what has come out, and the authors acknowledge, is that the research is complicated by the fact that the study participants in the studies they reviewed, they really exhibited unhealthy behaviour such as smoking, lack of physical activity, they tended to have a higher body mass index which means they were either overweight or obese and these are all known risk factors for chronic disease so it's really difficult to tease out a one food or food group as being the cause and effect.

The higher consumption of these foods really tended to be associated with poor lifestyle habits.

Ms Binnie suggests the Harvard study does underscore the importance of following recommendations contained in Canada's food guide to healthy eating.

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