Research suggests that processed meats can cause cancer that are treated with sodium nitrite. The World Cancer Research Fund suggests eating very little processed meat to the public because there is strong evidence that it is causing cancer of the intestine.
Either bacon, hot dogs or sausages, processed meat is described as an animal product that has been healed, salted, cured or smoked to improve its flavour and extend its shelf life. While all the processed meat once was tarred with the cancer brush, Queen’s University Belfast scientists believed that only those preserved with sodium nitrite pose a risk.
Many chemicals found in meat, added during production or created while cooking can give a bad reputation to processed meat. Sodium nitrite can be turned into cancer-causing chemicals called N-nitroso, according to Cancer Research in the United Kingdom, and the compounds can be trapped in the body.
To prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum and other food-spoiling bacteria, the preservative is applied to the meat. This was noted in the journal Nutrients by the Belfast scientists who conducted their work.
Many notorious preservatives include ham, a red meat pigment that kills cells and allows harmful substances to be released by bacteria. There are also HCAs or heterocyclic amines and PCAs or polycyclic amines that are produced when high-temperature meat is cooked and can kill the cells in the intestine.
Belfast scientists looked at 61 studies exploring the connection between common foods and cancer to learn more about the risks of processed meat. The investigation results came back muddled, with about half of the meat being processed that could cause malignant tumours. When the scientists looked at sodium nitrite alone, it fell to just under two-thirds or around 65%.
Dr William Crowe, the author of the study, said that the findings were much better when they looked at nitrate-containing isolated processed meat, which is the first time this was achieved in a comprehensive study. A link with cancer was found in nearly two-thirds of studies. Reports indicate that extracting nitrite from processed meat does not affect its health.
By comparison to their European counterparts such as pepperoni, chorizo and frankfurters, Irish and British sausages are not traditionally filled with nitrites. Without the controversial preservative, ham and bacon are also increasingly available, the scientists claim.