People who eat large amounts of cured meats have about a 3% reduction in lung function compared to those who never consume these foods, a new study shows. Such a difference may have a noticeable effect in a person with a lung disease, such as bronchitis, the researchers say.
Graham Barr at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, US, and colleagues analysed data from more than 7500 people surveyed in a national nutrition study. About 20% of participants never ate cured meats and another 20% reported consuming this type of food at least 14 times a month.
During the study, participants breathed into a machine that measured their lung function, including testing how quickly they could blow out air. A healthy person can usually expel about 2.5 litres to 3.0 litres of air from their lungs in 1 second.
Those who consumed a lot of cured meats managed 115 millilitres of air less per second than those who ate none, the team found. The result was statistically significant. While the average person might not notice a 3% decrease in lung strength, those who have lung disease may notice the reduction, Barr says.