Processed meat linked to aggravating asthma

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Processed meat linked to exacerbating asthma symptoms (Flickr/Andrew Malone)
Processed meat linked to exacerbating asthma symptoms (Flickr/Andrew Malone)

Related tags Nutrition Asthma

Research linking processed meat and asthma needs more evidence, claimed the Provision Trade Federation (PTF) and Asthma UK, after scientists reported the link this week (December 20).

Consuming more than four portions of processed meat – including sausages, salami and ham – increased the risk of enhanced asthma symptoms by 22%, claimed researchers from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research.

They believed the preservative nitrite – used in some processed meats – might exacerbate asthma symptoms, including breathlessness, wheezing and feeling tight-chested.

More investigations needed

But, PTF director general Andrew Kuyk said more research was needed to confirm the link.

“It seemed to me that it was not a definitive conclusion, and it’s one of a number of studies that are raising issues,”​ Kuyk told

“I didn’t sense any quantification or indication of risk. A linkage is one thing if proven, and at the moment it’s not proven, but you need to establish the risk and go from there.”

Charity Asthma UK backed Kuyk’s view of the study, published in the journal Thorax​. It said there was no specific dietary advice for asthmatics, and claimed they should follow the same dietary recommendations as everyone else.

No specific dietary advice

An Asthma UK spokeswoman told Food “It does not show a definite cause-and-effect from eating processed meats. Although certain foods can be triggers for allergies in some people, there is no specific dietary advice to manage asthma symptoms generally.

“For most people with asthma, healthy eating advice is exactly the same as it is for everyone else: follow a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh and unprocessed food and is low in sugar, salt and saturated fat.”

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation claimed processed meat caused cancer​ last year. Researchers said that each 50g serving of processed meat consumed increased bowel cancer risk by 18%.

Processed meat linked to asthma – at a glance

  • Eating more than four portions of processed meat said to exacerbate asthma symptoms by 22%.
  • Not enough research to draw definitive conclusions: PTF
  • No specific dietary recommendations for asthmatics: Asthma UK

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