19/02/2014 06:30 GMT | Updated 19/02/2014 06:59 GMT

Pigging Out On Bacon Could Cause Cancer, Heart Disease And Diabetes

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Next time you want to pig out on bacon, you may want to spare a thought for your health.

Our love of the pork product could lead to a number of health issues including cancer, heart disease and diabetes - all of which are linked to a high consumption of processed meat.

According to a major recent study involving half a million people, the risk of dying from any cause is 44% greater for high processed meat consumers than others.

High processed meat consumption led to a 72% increased risk of dying from heart disease, and an 11% increased risk of dying from cancer.

Over a typical follow up time of 12.7 years, the risk of dying from any cause was 44% greater for high processed meat consumers.

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Revealingly health risks do not increase with consumption unprocessed red meat such as beef or lamb, according to a study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Researcher Renata Micha said: "When we looked at average nutrients in unprocessed red and processed meats eaten in the United States, we found that they contained similar average amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol.

"In contrast, processed meats contained, on average, four times more sodium (salt) and 50% more nitrate preservatives."

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As a result, he claims it is the difference in salt and preservatives rather than fats might explain that may explain health risks.

A 2012 study found that two rashers of bacon can contain more than half of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of 6g of salt.

The research, conducted by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash), found that some brands contain three times more salt than others found in the same supermarket.

Renata recommends avoiding processed meats where possible: "Processed meats - such as bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs and processed deli meats - may be the most important to avoid. Based on our findings, eating one serving per week or less would be associated with relatively small risk."