Health Buzz: Processed Meats May Raise Heart, Diabetes Risk

5 ways to reduce kids' exposure to pesticides; postpartum depression hits dads, too.

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Hot Dogs, Bacon, and Sausage May Raise Heart Disease Risk

A newly published analysis suggests that processed meats including bacon, sausage, and deli ham may boost the risk of heart disease and diabetes, Reuters reports. Researchers reviewed almost 1,600 studies and found that eating the equivalent of one hot dog per day or 1.8 ounces of processed meats—which were smoked, cured, salted, or preserved using chemicals called nitrates—raised heart disease risk by 42 percent. Diabetes risk went up by 19 percent, the team found. Unprocessed meats, like beef or pork, however, seemed to have no effect on heart disease or diabetes risk. Both processed and unprocessed meats have nearly equal amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, but processed meats have around four times the amount of sodium, which may explain the findings, Reuters reports. Results are published in the journal Circulation.

Studies have associated heavy consumption of red meat with a shorter life and with a higher risk of diabetes, colon cancer, and cardiovascular disease, U.S. News contributor Katherine Hobson wrote in August. That doesn't mean, however, that you have to erase red meat from your diet in pursuit of better health. [Read more: Can Red Meat Have a Place in a Healthy Diet?]

Pesticides: 5 Ways to Reduce Children's Exposure

There's no question many children are routinely exposed to trace amounts of pesticides. Typical exposures aren't enough to cause known problems such as poisoning or cancer, but a newfound link between pesticide exposure and ADHD does raise the troubling question of whether such exposure could be harming children's brain development, U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute reports.

The new Pediatrics study found that children who had higher levels in their bodies of chemicals from organophosphate pesticides were more likely to have ADHD symptoms such as impulsivity and attention problems. That news doesn't necessarily mean that the pesticides cause ADHD—reaching that conclusion would require long-term studies that haven't been conducted—but it does warrant further examination, experts say.

ADHD is common in school age children, and organophosphate pesticides, which work by disabling a chemical that nerves use to transmit signals, are widely used in growing fruits and vegetables, for lawn care, and even for killing head lice, Shute writes. [Read more: Pesticides: 5 Ways to Reduce Children's Exposure.]

Postpartum Depression Hits Dads, Too

Over 10 percent of new fathers experience postpartum depression, according to a review of research published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers who examined 43 published studies found that Dad's depression also impacts Mom's risk of postpartum depression, The Wall Street Journal reports. Around 5 percent of men in the U.S. are considered depressed. Factors that lead to postpartum depression in men include sleep deprivation and stress, similar to what causes the condition in women, lead author James Paulson of Eastern Virginia Medical School told the Journal.

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