Eating one rasher of bacon a day — essentially 25gm of processed meat — raises your chances of suffering dementia, the mental disorder marked by personality changes and impaired reasoning.

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Researchers at the University of Leeds’s Nutritional Epidemiology Group found this after they examined data from 500,000 people in a study that associated one rasher of bacon daily with a 44 percent increased risk of dementia.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, explored a potential link between eating meat and the development of dementia, a condition estimated to affect five to eight percent of sexagenarians worldwide.

It studied data provided by UK Biobank, a database of genetic and health information of 500,000 people aged 40 to 69. It covered how often they consumed different meat types, with six options from “never” to “once or more daily”.

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Among the subjects, 2,896 cases of dementia emerged over an average of eight years after (from 2006/2010 when the data was obtained). Also, more men than women were diagnosed with dementia within the study population.

They were generally older, more economically deprived, less educated, more likely to smoke, less physically active, more likely to have stroke history, and more likely to be carriers of a gene which is highly associated with dementia.

Some were three to six times more likely to develop dementia due to established genetic factors but the findings suggest the risks from eating processed meat were the same, whether or not a person was genetically predisposed.

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Those who ate more processed meat were more likely to be male, less educated, smokers, overweight or obese, had lower intakes of vegetables and fruits, and had higher intakes of energy, protein, and fat (including saturated fat).

Speaking on the study’s findings, Huifeng Zhang, the lead researcher who is a PhD student from the University of Leeds’ School of Food Science and Nutrition, said: “Worldwide, the prevalence of dementia is increasing.

“And diet as a modifiable factor could play a role. Our research adds to the growing body of evidence linking processed meat consumption, to increased risk of a range of non-transmissible diseases.”

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