By Jennifer Lilonsky ( | First Posted: Mar 06, 2013 09:37 PM EST

(Photo : Reuters )

A new study, published in the European journal BMC Medicine, found that people who ate the most processed meats---like ham, bacon and sausages---were at the highest risk for premature death.

"We estimated that 3.3 percent of deaths could be prevented if all participants had a processed meat consumption of less than [0.7 ounces a day]," said the study's authors from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition.

Researchers analyzed dated based on the diets of more than 500,000 people from 10 European countries and found that people who ate more than five ounces of processed meats on a daily basis were more likely to die of heart disease and various types of cancer compared to people who consumed fewer amounts of processed meats.

The study also revealed that people in the study who ate the most processed and red meats also had the lowest consumption rates when it came to fruits and vegetables and were more likely to be smokers.

But researchers said that while processed meats still presented an increased risk of premature death, red meat could not be put into the same category as no direct link was found during the study.

In fact, researchers also said that there are some benefits associated with meat consumption and found that vegetarians could be at an increased risk as well.

"It appears a low-but not a zero-consumption of meat might be beneficial for health," the researchers said.

"A sub-optimal supply of some of the nutrients [provided by meat] due to an unbalanced type of vegetarian diet seems possible and might be associated with an increased risk for morbidity and mortality."


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