Eating hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats may be linked to an increased risk of manic episodes, a study had found.
Scientists found that patients hospitalise for mania were more than three times as likely to have eaten meats such as ham, salami or beef jerky than people without a history of a serious psychiatric disorder.
The researchers believe that this is because these type of foods contain the chemical nitrate, which is used to help preserve them.
The study, which was carried out by John Hopksins Medicine, says that nitrate may contribute to mania, an abnormal mood state.
Mania is characterised by hyperactivity, euphoria and insomnia.
Experiments in rats by the same researchers showed mania-like hyperactivity after just a few weeks on diets with added nitrates
Lead author Robert Yolken, M.D said: ‘Future work on this association could lead to dietary interventions to help reduce the risk of manic episodes in those who have bipolar disorder or who are otherwise vulnerable to mania.’
He is the Professor of Neurovirology in Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The study followed 1,101 people between the ages of 18 and 65 from 2007 to 2017, who were with and without psychiatric disorders.
Prof Yolked explained: ‘We looked at a number of different dietary exposures and cured meat really stood out.
‘It wasn’t just that people with mania have an abnormal diet.’
Nitrates have long been used as preservatives in cured meat products and have been previously linked to some cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, so the researchers suspected they may also explain the link to mood states such as mania.
A study of their records between 2007 and 2017 showed that, unexpectedly, among people who had been hospitalised for mania, a history of eating cured meat before hospitalisation were approximately 3.5 times higher than the group of people without a psychiatric disorder.
Cured meats were not associated with a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder in people not hospitalised for mania or in major depressive disorder.
No other foods about which participants were queried had a significant association with any of the disorders, or with mania.
The study was published today (July 18) and can be read in full on John Hopkins Medicine’s website here