DEC 21, 2019 8:54 AM PST

Processed meats containing nitrites linked to cancer

Since 2015, when the World Health Organization (WHO) classified processed meats as Group 1 carcinogens, science has supported the idea that these foods pose a serious threat to our bodies. New research from a branch of the WHO called The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) aims to adjust this classification by clarifying that processed meats that contain nitrites are the worst carcinogenic offenders.

The study, which comes from scientists at the Institute of Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast (QUB) in the United Kingdom, was published recently in Nutrients. It details the researchers’ findings from analyses of previous studies linking processed meat consumption and cancers of the colon, rectum, and bowel.

But back up for a second – what do we mean when we talk about processed meats? According to IARC, this category includes meat that has been cured, salted, smoked, fermented, or preserved in some way, such as frankfurters, bacon, ham, sausages, corned beef, beef jerky, and canned meat. During certain curing or flavoring processes, sodium nitrite is used to aid in the procedures, and as we know, sodium nitrites are known to be dangerously carcinogenic.

Back to the study. According to the researchers’ analyses, while roughly half the previous studies asserted evidence of a link between processed meat consumption and colorectal cancer, breaking down the categories of processed meats into those containing nitrites and those not containing nitrites, they found a significant difference. Compared to approximately 50% for processed meat, they saw a 65% link for colorectal cancer with processed meats that contained nitrites.

"When we looked at nitrite-containing processed meat in isolation, which is the first time this has been done in a comprehensive study, the results were much clearer," says first study author William Crowe, Ph.D., of the School of Biological Sciences at QUB, "Almost two-thirds of studies found a link with cancer.”

Although the researchers urge that more investigation will be needed in order to fully draw conclusions that could be implemented as suggestions regarding healthy diets, they say that sticking to nitrite-free processes meats is the best option we have at the moment.

Source: Pixabay

"There are so many variables when it comes to people's diets," comments senior study author Brian D. Green, Ph.D., from QUB's School of Biological Sciences. "But based on our study, which we believe provides the most thorough review of the evidence on nitrites to date, what we can confidently say is that a strong link exists between nitrite-containing processed meat, such as frankfurters, and [colorectal cancer]."

Sources: Nutrients, Medical News Today

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 02, 2020
Cancer
Age impacts response to melanoma treatment
NOV 02, 2020
Age impacts response to melanoma treatment
Research from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health& ...
NOV 05, 2020
Cancer
New insights on pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
NOV 05, 2020
New insights on pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
New research published this week in Cell from scientists at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, the Department of Radi ...
NOV 11, 2020
Cancer
A New CDK Inhibitor Could Help with Unresponsive Liver Cancer
NOV 11, 2020
A New CDK Inhibitor Could Help with Unresponsive Liver Cancer
Amongst the most common targets of anti-cancer drugs are small regulatory molecules called cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK ...
NOV 15, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Novel Cancer-Driving Genes are Discovered
NOV 15, 2020
Novel Cancer-Driving Genes are Discovered
Cells have to be able to divide so new ones can replenish cells that get worn out, dysfunctional, or that accumulate dam ...
NOV 17, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Tumor Stiffness Linked to Its Aggressiveness
NOV 17, 2020
Tumor Stiffness Linked to Its Aggressiveness
  As tumors grow, tiny areas at their cores are found to become stiff prior to metastasis, or the spread of cancer ...
DEC 21, 2020
Cancer
Cancer survivors have a higher risk of developing subsequent primary cancers
DEC 21, 2020
Cancer survivors have a higher risk of developing subsequent primary cancers
New research published in JAMA has found that cancer survivors have a higher risk of developing subsequent primary cance ...
Loading Comments...