Cured meats like bacon, hot dogs and cold cuts have been implicated as cancer promoters (see also here, here, here), possibly because they may contain nitrites, which turn into carcinogenic nitrosamines before consumption and when eaten in the absence of plants (see also here, here). Unfortunately, the nitrites may be a necessary addition to these processed meats to combat the threat of botulism. Hot dogs have been found to actually be composed of less than 10% meat. All of this may help to explain why hot dog consumption has been associated with brain tumors and childhood leukemia (see also here). Processed meats may also play a role in infertility in women and early onset puberty in girls. Processed meats may also contribute to aging, possibly by eating away at our protective DNA telomeres, or because they are high in AGEs, which are likewise thought to speed up the aging process. Consumption of sausages that contain thyroid tissue can cause a thyroid hormone excess in consumers. COPD (obstructive diseases like emphysema) has been associated with cured meat consumption. Listeria, the third leading cause of foodborne disease related death in the US, has the ability to thrive in deli meats; the meat industry now may treat the meat with viruses to combat this bacteria.
Topic summary contributed by Claire.