Studies have shown that diets heavy in cured meat may increase the risk of developing COPD. Now a recent study in the European Respiratory Journal suggests there's a link between cured meat consumption and hospital readmission in people with COPD.

Between 2004 and 2006, the investigators enrolled 274 patients (42 percent were current smokers; average age, 68 years) who were being admitted to the hospital for the first time because of COPD. Each person was asked about their consumption of cured meats (ham, cured ham, cured and other sausages and hot dogs). Each patient was followed until December 2007.

Compared with those who ate the least amount of cured meats, people who ate the most had about twice the risk of COPD-related hospital readmission. The time to the first readmission for COPD was longest in people who ate the least amount of cured meats. The culprit may be the nitrites added to processed meats like bacon and bologna.

These results need confirmation. Still, eating less cured meat has other benefits, such as helping to keep your blood pressure in check, which in turn reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Publication Review By: Peter B. Terry, M.D., M.A.

Published: 07 Aug 2013

Last Modified: 07 Aug 2013