When Nitrites Go Bad

When Nitrites Go Bad
4.5 (90%) 4 votes

Nitrites in processed meat form nitrosamines, a class of potent carcinogens found in cigarette smoke, which may explain why hot dog consumption has been associated with the two leading pediatric cancers, brain tumors and childhood leukemia.

Discuss
Republish

Our story begins on a Norwegian fur farm in 1957. Mink were dropping dead left and right from a malignant new liver disease. The clue came when livestock starting dying from liver cancer as well. What tied all the cases together was the use of fish meal in their diets—fish meal that the country had just started preserving with sodium nitrite.

Subsequent research discovered nitrite, under certain circumstances, can form nitrosamines, which directly attack DNA, and are universally condemned as one of the key carcinogens in cigarette smoke. The occurrence in food was raised as a matter of gravest concern nearly a half century ago. Now, we know the nitrites added to processed meats can form these carcinogenic nitrosamines—now recognized as among the most potent chemical carcinogens.

For example, pregnant women who eat hot dogs risk having children with brain tumors—the #2 pediatric cancers. Then, children, who eat lots of hot dogs, have nearly ten times the odds of developing childhood leukemia—the #1 pediatric cancer.

Last year, in Meat Science, an article about the role of ham in a healthy diet breathed a sigh of relief: “[A]spects relating to health and wellbeing are increasingly important factors in consumer decisions, although the great palatability of ham largely outweighs such considerations.”

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 MaryAnn Allison.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to the CancerProject.org and Ben Grey via Flickr

Our story begins on a Norwegian fur farm in 1957. Mink were dropping dead left and right from a malignant new liver disease. The clue came when livestock starting dying from liver cancer as well. What tied all the cases together was the use of fish meal in their diets—fish meal that the country had just started preserving with sodium nitrite.

Subsequent research discovered nitrite, under certain circumstances, can form nitrosamines, which directly attack DNA, and are universally condemned as one of the key carcinogens in cigarette smoke. The occurrence in food was raised as a matter of gravest concern nearly a half century ago. Now, we know the nitrites added to processed meats can form these carcinogenic nitrosamines—now recognized as among the most potent chemical carcinogens.

For example, pregnant women who eat hot dogs risk having children with brain tumors—the #2 pediatric cancers. Then, children, who eat lots of hot dogs, have nearly ten times the odds of developing childhood leukemia—the #1 pediatric cancer.

Last year, in Meat Science, an article about the role of ham in a healthy diet breathed a sigh of relief: “[A]spects relating to health and wellbeing are increasingly important factors in consumer decisions, although the great palatability of ham largely outweighs such considerations.”

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 MaryAnn Allison.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to the CancerProject.org and Ben Grey via Flickr

Doctor's Note

So might not the nitrites produced in our mouths, when we eat vegetables, form carcinogens too? (See Priming the Proton Pump for an overview of the nitrate-to-nitrite process.) Don’t worry, we’re getting to that. In the meantime, what is really in hot dogs anyway? Glad you asked—see my video What Is Really In Hot Dogs?. For more on preventing brain tumors in children, see #1 Anticancer Vegetable (and the prequel Veggies vs. Cancer). And for more on preventing blood cancers, see Meat & Multiple Myeloma.

For further context, check out my associated blog posts: Using Greens to Improve Athletic PerformanceTreating COPD With DietEating Green to Prevent CancerHow Chemically Contaminated Are We?How Tumors Use Meat to GrowAvoiding Cooked Meat Carcinogens; and  Should We Avoid Titanium Dioxide?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

9 responses to “When Nitrites Go Bad

Commenting Etiquette

The intention of the comment section under each video and blog post is to allow all members to share their stories, questions, and feedback with others in a welcoming, engaging, and respectful environment. Off-topic comments are permitted, in hopes more experienced users may be able to point them to more relevant videos that may answer their questions. Vigorous debate of science is welcome so long as participants can disagree respectfully. Advertising products or services is not permitted.

To make NutritionFacts.org a place where people feel comfortable posting without feeling attacked, we have no tolerance for ad hominem attacks or comments that are racist, misogynist, homophobic, vulgar, or otherwise inappropriate. Please help us to foster a community of mutual respect. Enforcement of these rules is done to the best of our ability on a case-by-case basis.

  1. So might not the nitrites produced in our mouths when we eat vegetables form carcinogens too? (See Priming the Proton Pump for an overview of the nitrate-to-nitrite process.) Don’t worry, we’re getting to that. In the meantime, what is really in hot dogs anyway? Glad you asked—see my video What Is Really In Hot Dogs?. For more on preventing brain tumors in children, see #1 Anticancer Vegetable (and the prequel Veggies vs. Cancer) and for more on preventing blood cancers, see Meat & Multiple Myeloma. And see our topic cloud for more on a thousand other topics.




    0



    0
      1. I would expect the results to be nearly the same. The in situ curing using vegetable powder, sea salt, and bacteria culture generates sodium nitrite which has the same chemical properties and effects on the food as added sodium nitrite. The sodium nitrite from the in situ method is just as capable of forming nitrosamines. It’s just that in the U.S. the label can say ‘organic’ when using the in situ method and it can’t when the sodium nitrite is added directly from an external source. The meat is pink and has the same flavor when using the in situ method compared with the externally added method.

        The added vegetable powder can be represented on the label as ‘natural flavoring’, so the consumer can’t even be sure from the label that it contains sodium nitrite using the vegetable powder in situ method. In that case, one has look at the pink color of the meat and the familiar salty cured taste to know that it has sodium nitrite.

        It’s worth noting that the label in the U.S. can still say ‘organic’ even when the meat is smoked. The meat contains soot from the combustion/smoldering of wood, which is known to contain mutagenic and carcinogenic substances. Some manufacturers like to use apple wood for the smoking because ‘apple’ sounds healthy. One manufacturer of organic smoked, cured bacon has a package that is covered with apples, giving the consumer the impression that it is healthy.




        0



        0
  2. I’m curious as to whether nitrite Carcinogens from these meats can also be absorbed from skin contact. I work as a cook at pizza hut and am concerned about my health from coming in contact with the ham and pepperoni. I would also like to thank you for posting all of your videos, it has helped me improve my eating habits and health knowledge!




    0



    0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This