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Conclusions of Harvard School of Public Health Study Questioned
Mary Ann Binnie - Canada Pork

Farmscape for May 20, 2010   (Episode 3430)

The Canadian Pork Council is questioning the conclusions of a Harvard School of Public Health study which has linked the consumption of processed meats to a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.

After reviewing nearly 16 hundred studies researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health concluded eating processed meats, such as bacon, sausage or processed deli meats, was associated with a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

But they did not find any higher risk of heart disease or diabetes among individuals eating unprocessed red meat, such as from beef, pork, or lamb.

Canadian Pork Council manager of nutrition and food industry relations Mary Ann Binnie notes the study relied on epidemiological research and its hard to draw substantial conclusions about one type of food through this type of work.

Clip-Mary Ann Binnie-Canadian Pork Council:
This research really is for providing information about distribution and determinants of disease for further study but it does not establish a cause and effect.

I think what has come out, and the authors acknowledge, is that the research is complicated by the fact that the study participants in the studies they reviewed, they really exhibited unhealthy behavior such as smoking, lack of physical activity, they tended to have a higher body mass index which means they were either overweight or obese and these are all known risk factors for chronic disease so it's really difficult to tease out a one food or food group as being the cause and effect.

The higher consumption of these foods really tended to be associated with poor lifestyle habits.

Binnie suggests the Harvard study does underscore the importance of following recommendations contained in Canada's food guide to healthy eating.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork Council

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