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Food for thought? Just one piece of bacon daily increases dementia risk by 44%, researchers say

Food for thought? Just one piece of bacon daily increases dementia risk by 44%, researchers say
Eating processed meat could raise one’s chances of developing dementia, researchers from the UK say, with just a single rasher of bacon a day associated with a 44% increased risk of contracting the brain-wasting disease.

Researchers at the University of Leeds examined data from almost half a million people to assess how eating meat impacts on health. Their findings, released Monday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, show that eating a 25g serving of bacon – one rasher – every day could increase a person’s dementia risk by up to a half.

If processed meat is bad, then the researchers also say that eating 50g of unprocessed red meat – such as beef, veal, or pork – can help in fighting dementia, decreasing the risk of getting the disease by a fifth (19%).

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The researchers from the university’s Nutritional Epidemiology Group looked at data from nearly 500,000 people between the ages of 40 and 69 living in the UK, trying to find links between eating meat and dementia, a disease that affects up to 8% of people over 60 worldwide.

“Our research adds to the growing body of evidence linking processed meat consumption to increased risk of a range of non-transmissible diseases,” said lead researcher Huifeng Zhang from the University of Leeds.

The team behind the study also found that, over an average of eight years, nearly 2,900 cases of dementia – including Alzheimer’s – appeared more often in men. The researchers found that those who contracted the disease also tended to be less educated, smoked, were overweight, and ate more junk food and less fruit and vegetables.

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“Anything we can do to explore potential risk factors for dementia may help us to reduce rates of this debilitating condition,” said Professor Janet Cade, who supervised the research.

It’s estimated there are around 50 million dementia cases globally, with around 10 million new cases diagnosed every year. Alzheimer’s disease makes up between 50% and 70% of cases, and vascular dementia around 25%.

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