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The Processed Meat and Asthma Connection

The Processed Meat and Asthma Connection

The expression “hot diggity dog” can be traced back to at least 1928. As singer Al Jolson wrapped up his recording of “There’s Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder,” he can be heard saying, “Hot diggity dog…Didn’t I tell you you’d love it?”

Americans love that hot dog too, and not just at the ballpark. You spend $2.5 BILLION annually in supermarkets on the encased mystery meat!

But the health consequences of ingesting the processed and/or cured wiener are, well, not so hot. In 2015, the World Health Organization definitively linked eating 50 grams of processed meat a day to an 18 percent increase in your colon cancer risk. And a study published in the journal Thorax found cured meats can literally take your breath away! Researchers revealed that people with asthma who ate cured meat (bacon, salami, corned beef, peperoni, pastrami and prosciutto treated with nitrites) at least four times weekly were 76 percent more likely to have worsening lung function over the length of the study—especially if they were overweight (the people, not the portions, but those too!).

The problems may be from nitrites—preservatives that KO bacteria in cured meats, but can cause inflammation and damage your body’s cells—or other factors in processed meats. But one thing’s for sure: If you want to hot-dog-around the basketball court or down the slopes, you’ll breathe easier if you dodge nitrate-laden dogs, say no to lunch meats and opt for vegetable proteins like nuts, beans and lean proteins like skinless poultry and salmon. 

Medically reviewed in May 2018.

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