Cured meat intake is associated with worsening asthma symptoms

Thorax. 2017 Mar;72(3):206-212. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2016-208375. Epub 2016 Dec 20.


Background: Cured meat intake-a recent carcinogenic factor-may increase the risk of COPD, but its association with asthma remains unknown. Though body mass index (BMI) is a likely risk factor for asthma, its role in the diet-asthma association as a mediator has never been studied. We investigated the association between cured meat intake and worsening asthma symptoms in adults, and the role of BMI as a potential mediator.

Methods: Using data from the French prospective EGEA study (baseline: 2003-2007; follow-up: 2011-2013), we applied a mediation analysis in the counterfactual framework, a marginal structural model (MSM), to estimate the direct effect of baseline cured meat intake (<1, 1-3.9, ≥4 servings/week) on change in asthma symptom score (worsening or not), and the indirect effect mediated by BMI.

Results: Among the 971 participants (mean age 43 years; 49% men; 42% with asthma), 20% reported worsening asthma symptoms during the mean follow-up time of 7 years. Using the MSM, we reported a positive direct effect of cured meat intake on worsening asthma symptoms (multivariable OR=1.76, 95% CI 1.01 to 3.06 for ≥4 vs <1 serving/week). We also reported an indirect effect mediated by BMI (OR=1.07; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.14), accounting for 14% of the total effect.

Conclusions: Higher cured meat intake was associated with worsening asthma symptoms over time, through a direct effect and to a lesser extent an effect mediated by BMI. This research extends the effect of diet on asthma in adults.

Keywords: Asthma; Asthma Epidemiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Food Preservation / methods*
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat / adverse effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires