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
AUG 19, 2020
Cancer
Link between microbiome and cancer treatment outcomes
AUG 19, 2020
Link between microbiome and cancer treatment outcomes
New research published in the journal European Urology reports that greater gut microbial diversity in patients wit ...
AUG 24, 2020
Cancer
Inhibiting Cancer Stem Cells to Stop Cancer Recurrence
AUG 24, 2020
Inhibiting Cancer Stem Cells to Stop Cancer Recurrence
Once upon a time, stem cells were the talk of the town. They really are amazing, with some capable of turning into any o ...
SEP 03, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Tiny Diagnostic Robot Tank Explores the Colon
SEP 03, 2020
Tiny Diagnostic Robot Tank Explores the Colon
The colon, also known as the large intestine, is where the final stages of digestion happen. Here, water, salts, and rem ...
SEP 20, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
New Drug Combo Prolongs Survival with Advanced Kidney Cancer
SEP 20, 2020
New Drug Combo Prolongs Survival with Advanced Kidney Cancer
Biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb has found that a new drug combination can reduce death rates among those ...
OCT 14, 2020
Cancer
Research suggests statins could reduce the risk of cancer
OCT 14, 2020
Research suggests statins could reduce the risk of cancer
New research published in the journal eLife provides evidence that statins, the common cholesterol-lowering drugs, could ...
OCT 22, 2020
Cancer
Cancer cells don't like crowded spaces
OCT 22, 2020
Cancer cells don't like crowded spaces
Researchers collaborating from St. Anna Children's Cancer Research Institute Vienna, King's College London, Inst ...
Loading Comments...