Processed meats like sausages and bacon may not be a danger to your health, according to a new study.
Canadian researchers reviewed evidence into this risks of red and processed meats to human health, and now argue that for most people, cutting down on them could be pointless.
Previous research suggested a link between red and processed meats and bowel cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The new study, led by Dalhousie University and McMaster University, found that if 1,000 people cut out three portions of red or processed meat from their diet each week for a lifetime, there would be just seven fewer deaths from cancer.
If the same number of people cut out three portions of red or processed meat from their diet for 11 years, there would be only four fewer deaths from heart disease. Cutting out three portions of processed meat each week for 11 year also prevented just 12 deaths from type 2 diabetes in the group of 1000 people.
Critics of the study say it plays down the risks posed by processed meats. Photo: PA.
What counts as red or processed meat?
Red meat is meat that is red when it is raw. This includes beef, pork, lamb, and venison - but excludes chicken and other birds, which are classed as white meat.
Processed meats are modified in some way before they are cooked or eaten - usually by curing, salting, smoking, or mincing.
Common processed meats include ham, bacon, salami, sausages, and pate.
What do other scientists say?
The study has been widely criticised by scientists and health experts, who argue that it underplays the risks posed by eating large amounts of red and processed meats.
Critics point to the fact that while positive results in the sample of 1,000 might seem insignificant, tens of thousands of people’s lives could be saved when the same results are factored into the UK population as a whole.
This article first appeared in our sister title, The Scotsman.