New Study: 'Spam' Meats May Cause Diabetes

February 3rd, 2012

Processed meats have long been considered inferior to "real" cuts of meat, such as t-bone steaks, pork loins and chicken breasts. But how bad are they?

According to new study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, these processed meats may lead to diabetes. Diabetes, a disease in which the body can not properly regulate insulin, affects over -.Americans each year. Many of them have to buy Lantus or other long-acting insulin injections such as the newly released Bydureon.

In a study of 2000 Native American people from four different states, researchers discovered a correlation between high processed meat intake and the development of diabetes. Almost half of Native Americans will have developed diabetes by age 55. Researchers aimed to find a basis for these staggering statistics.

Processed meats are a hypothesized common denominator. With many Native Americans living in rural reserves, far from grocery stores, consumers often choose to buy foods with a longer shelf life. This leads to consumption of processed meats such as Spam, and other canned goods. Spam in particular is often seen on Native American lands as it is a government-subsidized food.

At the start of the study, none of the 2000 participants had diabetes. Five years later, with the average participants' age being 40 years, 243 of those surveyed had developed diabetes. Five hundred of the original participants had reported consuming a significant amount of processed meats.

Though there is no clear link as to why processed meats are more likely to cause diabetes than unprocessed meats, scientists hypothesize this may be caused by the significantly higher sodium levels in "spam" meats.