Healthy Living

Cured Meat Can Result in COPD Flare-Ups

Cured Meat Can Result in COPD Flare-Ups

Key Takeaways

  • People with COPD should try and steer clear of cured meats.
  • Cured meats have been known to promote flare-ups of COPD in most patients.
  • Cured meats contain chemicals and ingredients that can trigger COPD flare ups, such as nitrites and nitrates.

People who consume cured meat, like bacon and salami, possess a greater risk of having a flare-up of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to reports researchers. COPD entails several lung diseases that are chronic, including bronchitis and emphysema. These chronic lung conditions may often result in exacerbations, or flare-ups of the disease, which can result in hospitalization.

According to a new study, people with COPD who consume more than one slice of ham, or any other equivalent form of cured meat, have an increased risk of developing exacerbations of this condition. Moreover, it may result in hospitalization depending on the severity of the flare-up, and the level of cured meat consumed. The flavor and color of cured meats are enhanced by the addition of nitrates and nitrites, which are also used to increase shelf life. The nitrates present in the meat are converted in the body to nitrites, which contribute to the risk of developing cancers. Nitrites were also found to be associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer in some of the studies.

Earlier studies displayed that the consumption of cured meat increases the risk of developing COPD. The new study adds that it increases the risk of exacerbations for individual's who already have COPD. The distinction that cure meats are the catalyst for COPD flare-ups is still unknown. According to the authors of the study, nitrites present in the meat damages lung tissue. Researcher Judith Garcia-Aymerich, MD, of the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, Spain, suggests that one can avoid the risk of flare-ups by abiding to the present dietary guidelines, which recommends a moderate or occasional consumption of cured meat.

In this study, 274 people with COPD were recruited. All of the participants had an average of 23 grams of cured meat daily, which is about the size of a slice of ham. During the follow-up period of two years, 35% of the participants had at least one hospitalization, due to a flare-up of this condition. Those who had more than the normal amount of cured meat recommended had a higher risk of being hospitalized multiple times, when compared to those who restricted the consumption of cured meats.

Barry Make, MD, pulmonologist at National Jewish Health in Denver, feels that the salt content in cured meat is the cause for flare-ups, not the nitrites. Patients with COPD are at risk of heart disease, and should be cautious about the consumption of salt, along with cured meat. Cured meat does not need any preparation, which makes for a convenient food for most people, like patients with COPD who are unable to cook.