Scientists from the University of Leeds found that eating processed meat is linked to higher dementia risk. On the other hand, eating unprocessed meat is linked to lower dementia risk.
Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people globally.
Dementia is a syndrome in which there is a deterioration in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from the usual consequences of biological aging.
It results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and may contribute to 60-70% of cases.
Dementia has physical, psychological, social, and economic impacts, not only for people living with dementia but also for their carers, families, and society at large.
Previous research has found that diet as a risk factor could play a role.
Eating meat has been linked to dementia risk, but specific amounts and types related to the risk of dementia remain unclear.
In the current study, researchers aimed to examine associations between meat intake and the risk of dementia using the data from the UK Biobank cohort.
Meat consumption was estimated using a dietary questionnaire at recruitment and repeated 24-h dietary assessments.
Cases of all-cause dementia comprising Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and vascular dementia (VD) were identified by electronic linkages to hospital and mortality records.
The team found in almost half a million participants included in the study, there were 2896 incident cases of all-cause dementia, 1006 cases of AD, and 490 cases of VD.
Each additional 25 g/day intake of processed meat were linked to increased risks of incident all-cause dementia and AD.
In contrast, a 50-g/d increment in unprocessed red meat intake was linked to reduced risks of all-cause dementia and AD.
Regarding incident VD, there were no strong trends found, although, for processed meat, higher intake was linked to increased risks.
The team also found the APOE ε4 allele increased dementia risk by 3 to 6 times but did not change the associations with diet.
These findings highlight processed-meat consumption may be a risk factor for risk of dementia, independent of the APOE ε4 allele.
The research was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and conducted by Huifeng Zhang et al.
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