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Yes, I know that by now this is old news (last week’s, actually). But it’s the story that made me start this blog, so it’s worth an honorary mention.

It all started when Harvard School of Public Health researchers published a study that claimed eating processed meat such as sausages or bacon could give you a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes. In other words, a riskfactorphobe’s nightmare. Especially if you’re a riskfactorphobe who likes good old English breakfasts (actually, if you’re riskfactorphobic, you probably gave up eating fry-ups years ago for fear of dropping dead of a heart attack).

Personally, as a vegetarian, I couldn’t be happier if the whole world gave up eating sausages – though hang on, it might cause a bit of a stampede in the meat-free frozen section at Asda (whose veggie sausages are the business, by the way). But it was great fun reading various website users’ comments on this story, my favourite being ‘Do people get paid to come up with all this shit, just get a life and let us live ours….’ (the writer shall remain nameless).

So speaks the nation where sausages are concerned, it seems. And, despite not being a meat-eater, I was glad to see there’s lots of healthy disdain for this type of science out there (at least where sausages are concerned), whether misguided or not.

Michael Blastland came up with a nice piece of journalism on the BBC’s website. Asking ‘Is the British banger dangerous?’, he confessed that most of the media coverage on that Harvard study had come up short. Again.

Michael takes a close look at the statistics (which I still don’t really understand – maths was never my strong point). I’m not going to go into it in as much detail as he does, but you don’t really need a mathematical brain to see what’s really going on. So 42  percent – as in what your risk for heart disease increases by if you eat a sausage a day – sounds pretty scary, doesn’t it? But of course it depends on what your risk was before you started eating sausages. If it wasn’t particularly high, then a 42 percent increase isn’t going to make it much higher.

And who on earth eats a sausage a day anyway? Oh you do? Sorry. No come in, it’s not normal behaviour, is it? Maybe a couple of bangers with a fry-up once or even twice a week, but that’s still not the equivalent of a sausage a day. Plus, as Michael points out, “a great many other things influence the risks of heart disease and diabetes, and that links between a food and a health hazard (or benefit) do not always indicate a direct cause.”

Wise words that all riskfactorphobes should remember.

Of course, heart disease is a serious problem in this country – still the number one killer, I believe – and we should all aim to keep our hearts as healthy as possible. So for balance, I’d highly recommend taking a trawl around the British Heart Foundation’s website to find out what you can do about it.

But if you ask me, the odd sausage isn’t going to do you much harm at all. Just don’t say I said so.