Tag Archives: Nitrites

Can consuming processed meats increase your chances of developing thyroid cancer?

FoodFacts.com has always maintained the position that the consumption of processed meats is not the best choice to make while trying to maintain a healthy diet. We know that most in our community feel the same way and try to avoid processed meats as much as possible.

We recently read about some new research published in the International Journal of Cancer that links nitrites used in processed meats to a increased risk of cancer. The study comes out of the Department of Health Studies at the University of Chicago and focused on participants with higher and lower intakes of nitrites.

Over 73,000 females up to the age of 70 were followed through a food frequency questionnaire. They were followed for an 11 year period. During that follow-up period, 164 cases of thyroid cancer developed within this population. While there was no general association made between nitrate intake and risk for thyroid cancer in most of the studied population, that in the highest range of nitrite intake had a 100% increased risk of developing thyroid cancer when compared with those who had the lowest range of nitrite consumption. You read that right – a 100% increased risk!

While the study is suggesting a link, that link may be quite factual because nitrites can be converted into cancer causing N-nitroso compounds. These compounds have already been discovered to cause other types of cancers.

Nitrites are common ingredients in products such as hot dogs, processed deli meats, ham, bacon, sausage, and many boxed or canned products where preservatives are found. FoodFacts.com cannot stress the importance of reading ingredient labels strongly enough. There are times when a consumer picks up a product in which they would never expect to find nitrites and the ingredient is listed clearly on the product.

In addition to the possibility of picked up a processed food product where you wouldn’t expect to find nitrites as an ingredient, FoodFacts.com is also aware that there are many folks who do have a difficult time completely giving up foods like bacon and sausage. For these folks, the research suggests that taking a high dose of a Vitamin C supplement, or drinking a high Vitamin C fruit juice can help prevent the conversion of nitrites into N-nitroso compounds. The study also points out that while a juice product may be labeled as high in Vitamin C, it is a more reliable option to take Vitamin C supplements regularly because you can be sure of the content of the supplement more readily than that of the juice.

When looking for a healthy Vitamin C supplement, keep in mind that FoodFacts TRI Nutritionals offer you pure, natural, real ingredients that are free from most items you may be actively avoiding in your supplements, like sugar, salt, gluten and corn. FoodFacts.com would, of course as always, be an advocate of eliminating nitrites from your diet completely. It’s one of the best, healthiest decisions you can make for your body.

We invite you to read more about this fascinating study:  http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Nutrition/Food/processed_meat_linked_to_thyroid_cancer_1222120314.html

Reduced levels of nitrites in hot dogs had no significant affect on incidence of colon cancer

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FoodFacts.com
thought our community would find this story of particular interest. Back in 1978, the United States government mandated the addition of vitamin C to hot dogs. This would reduce the amount of nitrites and would, by the popular opinion of the time, reduce the rate of colon cancer in the country.

The FDA required hot dog manufacturers to include either ascorbate or erythorbate in their products. Both of these would offset the amount of nitrites present in the meat. Nitrites are what is added to processed meats like frankfurters. They enhance flavor and color in addition to extending shelf life. Unfortunately, as the meat is cooked the nitrites mix with amines in the meat to form cancer-causing nitrosamines. The presence of vitamin C would reduce the nitrites and prevent the cancer.

Great idea.

A new study, however, has revealed that although there has been a notable drop in the number of people who die from colon cancer, there really hasn’t been much of a change in the number of people who actually get colon cancer. These findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting just this week. While researchers agree that the amount of nitrites in hot dogs were definitely reduced by the changes made by the government, those reductions did not decrease the risk for colon cancer in the country. Researchers feel that the results would have been evident by now.

It was agreed that the decrease in the death rate from colon cancer is most likely attributable to earlier detection and better treatments.

While the researchers agreed that reducing the nitrites in hot dogs was a beneficial move, the hot dog issue is difficult to determine. Since not everyone is a hot dog fan, and even most of those who are aren’t eating them in excess, studying the issue is clouded.

Regardless of its effect on colon cancer, it’s better for everyone that today’s hot dogs carry reduced quantities of nitrites compared to their 1970’s counterparts.