The team from Harvard University looked at 20 studies involving more than a million people from around the world. They found that eating the equivalent of one sausage a day appeared to increase the likelihood of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the UK, by over 40%. The regular eating of processed meat also raised the risk of diabetes by nearly 20%.
But those who enjoy red meat can draw some comfort from the report. The researchers did not find any heightened risk of heart disease or diabetes from eating unprocessed red meat, like beef, lamb or pork - even in larger quantities.
Writing in the journal Circulation, they suggest it may be
the salt and preservatives used in processed meat that are behind the increased risk of disease, rather than the fat or cholesterol content which so often gets the blame.
Clare Murphy, BBC News