The levels of nitrosamines—considered the most carcinogenic agents in cigarette smoke—were recently measured in an array of processed meats including chicken, turkey, and pork.
Nitrosamines are considered the most carcinogenic, the most cancer-causing agents in cigarette smoke.
In 2011, scientists measure the amount of nitrosamines in meat products. This is a table showing quantities of seven different preformed carcinogenic nitrosamines. So from chicken meatballs, to pork, turkey slices, hot dogs, foie gras and sausage, processed meats come prepackaged with carcinogens thanks to the transformation that occurs from nitrite to nitrosamine in the absence of phytonutrients.
How much is there in meat, compared to tobacco? The Cancer Project uses this graphic to warn consumers about the cancer risks associated with processed meat, suggesting a few hot dogs may contain the carcinogenic load of a pack of cigarettes. Turns out they hit it right on the head. Filtered cigarettes have 11 times more nitrosamines and nitrosamides, but that's per kilo. Cigarettes have less than a gram of tobacco each. Hot dogs are about 60 times heavier and so four hot dogs has more than a pack of 20 cigarettes.
Here’s how much nitrosamine you can measure over the course of a day in someone eating ham, or sausage….
And here these are two representative graphs of how much is flowing through the bodies of those eating vegetarian.
In fact you can take people who eat smoked or canned meat, put them on a vegetarian diet and very quickly see a drop as your body starts to detoxify itself within a day or two. Here’s a chart... of the effect of changing from a meat diet to a vegetarian diet on urinary nitrosamine levels, a reflection of what's flowing nthrough their blood streams. Looking at 4 different carcinogens you can see Day 1 and 2 eating meat, then vegetarian diays 3 through 5 and you can see the dramatic drop, though doesn’t drop as low as those on the control vegetarian diet. Presumably, though, a few more days and body would be able to flush out the remainder.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.
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Eating a plant-based diet can also help detoxify your body from some of the industrial pollutants found higher in the food chain, but it takes substantially longer than a few days. See Industrial Pollutants in Vegans and Flame Retardant Chemical Contamination. For a comparison of the levels of different carcinogens in meat, see Food Sources of PCB Chemical Pollutants, Carcinogenic Putrescine, Hair Testing For Mercury, Dioxins in the Food Supply, and Carcinogens in Roasted Chicken. See all 1,500 or so topics I cover here.
For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Using Greens to Improve Athletic Performance, Eating To Extend Our Lifespan, Harvard's Meat and Mortality Studies, Adding FDA-Approved Viruses to Meat, How Chemically Contaminated Are We?, How To Reduce Dietary Antibiotic Intake, and Avoid Cooked Meat Carcinogens