Processed Meat May Worsen Asthma Symptoms, Study Says

March 5, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. aggravate / ˈæg rəˌveɪt / (v.) – to make something worse
Example: His cough was aggravated by smoking.

2. chronic / ˈkrɒn ɪk / (adj.) – continuing for a long time
Example: She is suffering from chronic pain.

3. severity / səˈvɛr ɪ ti / (n.) – the degree of unpleasantness of something
Example: The doctor asked her to rate the severity of her pain from one to ten.

4. preservative / prɪˈzɜr və tɪv / (n.) – a substance used to keep food or other products from spoiling
Example: Salt is a common preservative.

5. limitation / ˌlɪm ɪˈteɪ ʃən / (n.) – a weakness that restricts the ability or effectiveness of something
Example: The study’s limitation was it had too few participants.


Read the text below.
A new study revealed that eating processed meat regularly may aggravate symptoms of asthma.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), asthma affects 235 million people in the world. It is a chronic lung disease that makes a person’s airways narrow. Its symptoms include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and chest pain.

For this study, the researchers observed more than 900 French people who have asthma. From 2003 to 2013, the researchers collected data on the amount of processed meat that the participants consumed weekly. They also monitored the severity of the participants’ asthma symptoms.

The study revealed that those who consumed the highest amount of processed meat had a 76% chance of aggravating their asthma symptoms. The researchers suspect that nitrite /ˈnaɪ traɪt/, a preservative used to keep meat from spoiling, could be the cause of worsening asthma symptoms.

However, the study's lead researcher clarified that the findings were not conclusive and that the study has limitations. The researchers warn that the data may not be very accurate because they were based on what the participants reported from memory. Despite this, the researchers still strongly advised against eating too much processed meat, as previous studies have also associated excessive consumption with other chronic diseases.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published its findings about the link between processed meat and bowel cancer /ˈbaʊ əl ˈkæn sər /The IARC reported that consuming 50 grams of processed meat, which is equivalent to a piece of sausage or five slices of bacon, raised the risk of bowel cancer by 18%. The same report also linked red meat such as beef, pork, and lamb to the risk of cancer.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         After reading the article, would you encourage people to stop eating processed meat products? Why or why not?
·         In your opinion, how can consumption of processed meat be reduced around the world?

Discussion B

·         Do you think it is easy to give up eating processed meat? Why or why not?
·         What can people do to stay healthy even if they eat processed meat products?

March 5, 2017