Swiss study: Death risk for sausage eaters

Anyone who eats more than 40 grams of sausage products a day is asking for trouble, according to a new study by the University of Zurich.

Swiss study: Death risk for sausage eaters
Hold the sausage! More than 40 g can be a health risk. Photo: AFP

The risk of mortality increases by 18 percent for every 50 grams of processed meat consumed in a day, said a news release quoted by 20 Minuten.

The study was conducted among 450,000 participants by the university Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine in collaboration with research colleagues from all over Europe.

People who eat a lot of processed meat, such as sausage products, salami or ham run a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer, it found.

“People who eat over 40 grams of processed meat per day have an increased risk of mortality compared to those who eat fewer than 20 grams a day,” the university said.

Carcinogenic substances form through salting, pickling and smoking, and these could be the cause of the increase in cancer mortality, it said.

In addition, processed meats are rich in cholesterol and saturated fats, which are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

“We estimate that three percent of all premature deaths can be attributed to the high consumption of processed meat,” said the institute’s Sabine Rohrmann.

But other lifestyle and dietary factors also influenced the risk of illness and mortality, according to the report.

The study confirmed previous findings that vegetarians often live more healthily than meat-eaters, do more sport and smoke less.

The researchers also found that survey participants who ate most meat also ate the least fruit and vegetables, consumed more alcohol and smoked more.

However, meat is also a key source of important vitamins and minerals such as iron, the university said.

“Moderate consumption of up to 40 grams a day doesn’t increase the mortality risk,” Rohrmann said.

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Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I’m abroad?

Given how expensive health insurance premiums are in Switzerland, you may be tempted to suspend your policy while you are abroad. Is this possible?

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I'm abroad?

Unlike the obligatory car insurance, which you can suspend temporarily by depositing your registration plates at the local motor vehicles office, rules pertaining to health insurance are much stricter.

As the Federal Office of Public Health explains it, “If you leave the country for a certain period to travel or study but do not take up residence abroad, you are still required to have [health] insurance in Switzerland”.

In other words, as long as you are a registered resident of Switzerland, regardless of your nationality or passport, you must keep your compulsory Swiss health insurance and pay your premiums. While you do this, you also remain covered against most medical emergencies while you travel.

However, rules are less stringent for supplemental health plans which can, in some cases, be put on hold, depending on the insurance provider, according to Switzerland’s Moneyland consumer website.

The only exception allowed for suspending the health insurance coverage is during a military or civil protection service which lasts more than 60 consecutive days.

“During these periods, the risks of illness and accident are covered by military insurance. Your health insurance provider will refund your premiums”, according to FOPH.

Under what circumstances can you cancel your Swiss health insurance?

Swiss law says you can cancel your insurance if you are moving abroad, either permanently for for a period exceeding three months.

If you do so, only claims for treatments given while you still lived in Switzerland will be paid by your insurance; any medical bills for treatment incurred after you officially leave will be denied.

These are the procedures for cancelling your compulsory health insurance if you leave the country under conditions mentioned above

To announce your departure abroad, you must send your insurance carrier a letter including your name, customer number or AVS/AHV number.

You must also include a certificate from your place of residence in Switzerland confirming that you have de-registered from your current address, as well as the date of your departure.

Note, however, that if your new destination is another Swiss community / canton, rather than a foreign country, your insurance can only be cancelled from the following calendar year and only if you present proof of having taken up a new policy with another company.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to register your address in Switzerland

You can find out more information about this process here

If you suspend your health insurance for less than six years, you can reactivate it at a later date with the same company when you return to Switzerland.

READ MORE : What you should know about your Swiss health insurance before you go abroad