(HealthDay News) — Higher levels of cured meat intake are associated with a direct effect on worsening asthma symptoms over time, according to a study published in Thorax.

Zhen Li, MD, from the Hôpital Paul Brousse in Paris, and colleagues assessed data from 971 participants (mean age 43 years; 49% men; 42% with asthma) in the prospective Epidemiological study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma (EGEA) study (baseline, 2003 to 2007; follow-up, 2011 to 2013). The authors sought to estimate the direct effect of baseline cured meat intake (<1, 1 to 3.9, ≥4 servings/week) on change in asthma symptom score (worsening or not), and the indirect effect mediated by body mass index (BMI).

The researchers found that 20% of participants reported worsening asthma symptoms during the mean follow-up of 7 years. Using a marginal structural model, there was a positive direct effect of cured meat intake on worsening asthma symptoms (multivariable odds ratio, 1.76 for ≥4 vs <1 serving/week). There was also an indirect effect mediated by BMI (adjusted odds ratio, 1.07), accounting for 14% of the total effect.

“This research extends the effect of diet on asthma in adults,” the authors write.

The study was partially funded by Merck Sharp & Dohme.


  1. Li Z, Rava M, Bedard A, et al. Cured meat intake is associated with worsening asthma symptoms. Thorax. 2016. doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2016-208375