PhotoSomeone recently said that sitting is the new smoking, setting one up for premature death and disability. Perhaps, but a new study shows pretty decisively that, in fact, sausages are the new smoking. Also bacon.

The study included half a million men and women and was part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. It found a link between processed meat and heart disease and cancer, according to a report of the study published in BMC Medicine

Processed meat includes sausages, ham, bacon, hot dogs and brats. It's apparently the salt, smoke and nitrate that make these kinds of meats so toxic, not to mention the high levels of fat. 

While it's been known for quite some time that such things aren't good for you, this study really puts the nail in the coffin, so to speak. It found, in no uncertain terms, that the more processed meat you eat the more likely you are to die early. 

PhotoThe researchers think the increased cancer risk could be due to the presence of preservatives like the salt, smoke and nitrate. Also, the high levels of fat in these meats.

"Overall, we estimate that 3 percent of premature deaths each year could be prevented if people ate less than 20 grams of processed meat per day," said study researcher Sabine Rohrmann, from the University of Zurich.

This study, by the way, was huge. Half a million people is a lot of data. The researchers said the huge sample makes it possible to filter out the effects of other lifestyle habits besides meat-eating and thus makes the study more reliable. 

There is one little ray of sunshine for carnivores: the study found that there is a small positive effect from eating a small -- we said small -- amount of red meat, possibly because meat is a good source of nutrients and vitamins that are hard to find elsewhere.

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