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Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Dec 15;166(12):1438-45. Epub 2007 Sep 4.

Prospective study of cured meats consumption and risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in men.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.


Cured meats are high in nitrites. Nitrites generate reactive nitrogen species that may cause damage to the lung. The objective is to assess the relation between frequent consumption of cured meats and the risk of newly diagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Between 1986 and 1998, the authors identified 111 self-reported cases of newly diagnosed COPD among 42,915 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The cumulative average intake of cured meats consumption (processed meats, bacon, hot dogs) was calculated from food frequency questionnaires administrated in 1986, 1990, and 1994 and divided according to servings per week (never/almost never, <1 serving/week, 1-3 servings/week, 4-6 servings/week, at least once/day). After adjustment for age, smoking status, pack-years, pack-years squared, energy intake, race/ethnicity, US region, body mass index, and physical activity, the consumption of cured meats was positively associated with the risk of newly diagnosed COPD (for highest vs. lowest intake: relative risk = 2.64, 95% confidence interval: 1.39, 5.00; p(trend) = 0.002). In contrast to these findings, the consumption of cured meats was not associated with the risk of adult-onset asthma. These data suggest that cured meat may worsen the adverse effects of smoking on risk of COPD.

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