Red meat, particularly processed red meats like bacon, sausage, and hot dogs, may increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The more processed or unprocessed red meat a person eats, the greater the risk, according to a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Type 2 diabetes is linked with obesity. It occurs when they body does not produce enough of the hormone insulin, or the cells do not use insulin properly. Insulin helps the body use glucose or blood sugar for energy. When blood sugar remains elevated with diabetes, complications such as heart disease, blindness, and nerve and kidney damage can occur.
In the study, participants who ate one 3.5-ounce serving of non-processed red meat a day, such as steak or hamburger, were almost 20% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Those who ate half of this amount of processed meat, such as two slices of bacon or one hot dog, had a 51% increased risk for developing diabetes.
“The amount is not huge, but the risk is pretty high,” says Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. “Regular consumption of red meat, especially processed, is associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. The findings are important given the rising epidemic of diabetes and the increasing consumption of red meat.”
But an industry group disputes the findings of the study.