We've got some not-so-good news for the bacon lovers out there.

For a while now, science has made it pretty dang clear that there are some downsides to consuming most types of meat. But the typical adverse effects that we think of tend to be heart disease, cancer, obesity, clogged blood vessels, etc.

Well, as it turns out, those aren't the only potential negative effects of meat-eating—particularly processed meat. Read on for how those bacon breakfasts might actually be impacting your brain.

The Diet and Dementia Link

pork strip appetizers

Dementia is extremely common. The Alzheimer's Association defines it as "a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life." It's a disease that can significantly impact and alter the lives of those afflicted by it.

Researchers have spent years trying to uncover the risk factors and reasons behind the onset of dementia. In particular, many researchers have been investigating how diet plays a role in the development of this debilitating set of diseases.

Recent research has shown that eating processed meat may contribute to an increased risk of dementia.

The Research on Dementia and Meat Eating

deli meat sandwich on a plate

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition just released a study examining whether eating these not-so-healthy kinds of meat could be a risk factor for dementia. Researchers used diet questionnaires and hospital and mortality records to determine the connection between meat consumption and cognitive disease. 

Ultimately, they did find a correlation between high processed meat consumption and increased risk for dementia. "Bacon, sausages, canned meats, and cured beef and pork products were linked to the most profound risk increases for dementia," according to The Ladder. Two strips of bacon a day were found to raise one’s risk for dementia risk by as much as 44%

It's a study that's enough to give any bacon eater reason to pause, but we should note that men were more adversely impacted by habitual unprocessed meat consumption. The group was "typically older, male, smokers, inactive, obese, financially unstable, and less educated. They were also more likely to carry a family history of stroke or dementia, and a gene independently linked to dementia," as The Ladders observes in its article, If you regularly eat this for dinner your risk of dementia goes up by 40%.

Researchers in France have also looked at similar links. They had over 1,500 volunteers fill out a survey on food and diet. Then, the researchers followed the volunteers for 12 years and kept track of which participants developed dementia in that time. Much like The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they discovered a correlation between the consumption of processed meats and the risk of developing dementia.

Not All Meats

Juicy medium Beef Rib Eye steak slices in pan on wooden board with fork and knife herbs spices and salt.

Steak and chicken are more innocent than their processed compadres. "Unprocessed red meats (such as steak) actually managed to cut down that risk by approximately 19%," according to Eat This, Not That!. "Consumption of processed poultry did not appear to yield any significant correlations with cognitive decline," as The Ladders points out.

The Takeaway

hamburger patties and strips of bacon

We all make thousands of decisions each year about what we eat. Many different factors go into those choices. We can never be perfectly healthy, perfectly environmental, or perfectly ethical, but, we can try. Having as much information as possible in order to make informed decisions always helps.

This new research out about meat-eating and dementia will likely have some bacon-lovers and deli meat-eaters concerned. And for good reason. It's one more mark against eating animals in what seems to be an ever-growing list.

Ultimately, we've all got to decide on our own what matters when it comes to our meals.

But one thing is for sure: it's a bad, bad day for bacon.

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