Eating a rasher of bacon per day could be associated with a rise in the risk of developing dementia, a new study has suggested.
Researchers found consuming a 25g serving of processed meat (roughly equivalent to a rasher of bacon) had been associated with a 44 per cent risk of dementia.
The study is believed to be the first of its kind to find a link between a specific type and amount of meat, and the risk of developing dementia.
Calls for more scrutiny over the link
The latest study has added to a growing body of research which links the consumption of processed meat to an increased risk of a range of non-transmissible diseases.
The study was led by Huifeng Zhang, of the University of Leeds, who stressed that the results of this study did not prove that meat foods such as sausages, meat pies and kebabs caused dementia.
Published in the American Journal and Clinical Nutrition, the study examined 500,000 UK adults, with an average age of about 57, who had signed up to the UK Biobank project. The study took place over eight years, and of the group, about 2,900 developed dementia.
Professor Janet Cade, who supervised the research, said: “This is a first step. We’re not confirming anything here; we’re generating a hypothesis.
“I had a pizza with some parma ham on it last night, which was very nice. What we’re trying to do here is suggest that research into food nutrient intake in relation to risk of dementia needs further development.”
Other factors were taken into account during the study, including the presence of the APOE gene, which has been strongly associated with dementia, as well as a person's economic status.
Clive Ballard, pro-vice-chancellor and executive dean for medicine at the University of Exeter, said one weakness of the study was including a relatively small number of people who developed dementia.
MR Ballard said: “Although this study will be important when we are in a position to combine the results from multiple studies, as the study is small for this type of work we should definitely not overinterpret the results.
“We should not assume from this research that one rasher of bacon a day increases your risk of dementia by 44 per cent - it is simply impossible to demonstrate that in a study like this.”