Two bacon sandwiches a week can raise the risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 62%

Just two bacon sandwiches per week can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. (Getty Images)
Just two bacon sandwiches per week can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. (Getty Images)

Just two bacon sandwiches per week, or one roast beef dinner, can raise your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 62%, a new study has found.

Researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analysed data from 216,695 participants whose diets were assessed every two to four years, for up to 36 years.

During that period, more than 22,000 participants developed type 2 diabetes.

The study found that participants who ate the most red meat, be it processed or unprocessed, were 62% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who ate the least.

It also found that every additional daily serving of processed red meat was associated with a 46% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Pot roast being served on a white oval platter with gold rim. Gray tablecloth. Copy space.
Regular consumption of red meat such as red meat can increase your type 2 diabetes risk by 62%. (Getty Images)

However, researchers said that those who replace red meat consumption with plant-based proteins such as legumes and nuts could reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Study senior author Professor Walter Willett said: "Given our findings and previous work by others, a limit of about one serving per week of red meat would be reasonable for people wishing to optimise their health and well-being.”

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that occurs when your body does not produce enough of the hormone called insulin to counteract the high blood sugar levels.

Most people with high blood sugar will first experience prediabetes and insulin resistance before they eventually reach the blood sugar levels associated with type 2 diabetes.

Once you have it, it’s usually a lifelong condition - but it can go undiagnosed for years if you are unaware of the symptoms. Without proper diagnosis, it can cause health complications such as eye problems, foot problems, increased risk of a heart attack and stroke, kidney damage, nerve damage, and even cancer.

Causes of type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is caused when your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to keep your blood glucose level (another name for blood sugar level) stable.

There are several factors that can influence your likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes including age, genetics, weight and ethnicity.

Woman standing on scale; close-up of legs.
Being overweight or obese is a risk factor in developing type 2 diabetes. (Getty Images)

People over the age of 40 are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, which lowers to those over the age of 25 for south Asian people. You are also more likely to develop it if you have a close relative with the condition.

Being overweight or obese can also increase your likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, especially for people with a BMI higher than 30. If you’re more prone to storing fat around your stomach, this can also raise the risk, as it can disrupt the body’s cardiovascular and metabolic systems, the NHS says.

The health service adds that people of south Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean and black African origin are more likely to develop the condition too.

What are the first symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

Some early warning signs that you may have type 2 diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst

  • Needing to pee more often than normal

  • Constantly feeling tired

  • Losing weight without trying to

  • Itchiness in the genital region, or repeatedly getting thrush

  • Blurred vision

  • Cuts taking longer to heal

The NHS recommends making an appointment with your GP if you have any of these symptoms or are more at risk of developing diabetes as it can be diagnosed with a blood test.

Woman drinking water while exercising outdoors on a sunny clear day.
Excess thirst can be one of the first warning signs of type 2 diabetes. (Getty Images)

Type 2 diabetes treatment

If you have insulin resistance or prediabetes, most of the time this can be reversed by losing weight, eating a healthy diet and incorporating regular exercise into your routine.

People who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can also put themselves in remission, usually by losing a significant amount of weight and lowering their blood glucose level.

Most people who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes require medicine to manage their blood glucose levels, and are usually prescribed metformin.

Additonal reporting by SWNS.

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