Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Is Sausage Bad For You?



Short answer

Sausage often contains red meat and almost always contains processed meat. Both are bad for you, so consuming in moderation is important.



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Long answer

Sausages should be consumed in moderation. They generally contain both red meat and processed meat. Both have been linked to higher rates of stomach and bowel cancer and should be eaten sparingly. If you have a family history of cancer that's linked to the consumption of red or processed meats, you may want to avoid sausages entirely.

Sausages are made from meat, and meat is bad for you in general. A massive Harvard study tracked the diets of 130,000 people for more than three decades. They found that calories from animal proteins leader to quicker deaths and an increased risk of heart disease. Swapping animal proteins out for vegetables similarly leads to longer lives and lower rates of heart disease.

Sausages also fall into the category of processed meats - their shelf life has been extended by salting, curing, or smoking. The World Health Organization's cancer arm declared in 2015 that processed meats ranked with cigarettes and arsenic as a leading driver of cancer. Consuming a 50-gram portion of processed meat daily, according to their report, increases the risk of bowel cancer 18%.

This doesn't mean that sausages should be cut entirely from the diet. It does mean that you should be judicious and sparing in your consumption of sausage. This is especially true if you’re already predisposed to cancers of the stomach or the bowel. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about safe levels of sausage consumption based on your individual and familial medical history. A good general rule to abide mine is no more than a pound of red or processed meat in a week. 

Red and processed meats are also linked to higher rates of heart disease. Again, If you're predisposed, consider reducing or eliminating red meat products like sausage from your diet.

Sausages contain high enough levels of salt and fat to cause a number of chronic problems when consumed regularly. Read the labels in the supermarket and choose sausages that have lower levels of salt and fat. Too much salt and fat can increase your blood pressure, your levels of bad cholesterol, and your risk of contracting certain cancers and diseases.

Sausages made from turkey and poultry are significantly healthier than their red meat cousins. Consider buying turkey or poultry dogs if you're attached to sausage but want to reduce the levels of red meat in your diet. Turkey and poultry sausages aren’t red meat, but they’re still processed meats, so the dangers discussed above still apply.

Possible long-term side effects

  • bowel cancer
  • stomach cancer
  • heart disease
  • heart attack
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased cholesterol

Ingredients to be aware of


  • good source of:
  • protein
  • iron
  • vitamin b-12

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Tofurky Italian Sausage

  • Plant-based protein
  • 14 oz, 5-pack
  • Italian flavored
  • Cholesterol-free
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

View Sources | Written by Sean McNulty
Published on: 11-04-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

View Sources
Written by Sean McNulty
Published on: 11-04-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

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