FoodFacts.com thought our community would find this story of particular interest. Back in 1978, the United States government mandated the addition of vitamin C to hot dogs. This would reduce the amount of nitrites and would, by the popular opinion of the time, reduce the rate of colon cancer in the country.
The FDA required hot dog manufacturers to include either ascorbate or erythorbate in their products. Both of these would offset the amount of nitrites present in the meat. Nitrites are what is added to processed meats like frankfurters. They enhance flavor and color in addition to extending shelf life. Unfortunately, as the meat is cooked the nitrites mix with amines in the meat to form cancer-causing nitrosamines. The presence of vitamin C would reduce the nitrites and prevent the cancer.
A new study, however, has revealed that although there has been a notable drop in the number of people who die from colon cancer, there really hasn’t been much of a change in the number of people who actually get colon cancer. These findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting just this week. While researchers agree that the amount of nitrites in hot dogs were definitely reduced by the changes made by the government, those reductions did not decrease the risk for colon cancer in the country. Researchers feel that the results would have been evident by now.
It was agreed that the decrease in the death rate from colon cancer is most likely attributable to earlier detection and better treatments.
While the researchers agreed that reducing the nitrites in hot dogs was a beneficial move, the hot dog issue is difficult to determine. Since not everyone is a hot dog fan, and even most of those who are aren’t eating them in excess, studying the issue is clouded.
Regardless of its effect on colon cancer, it’s better for everyone that today’s hot dogs carry reduced quantities of nitrites compared to their 1970’s counterparts.
Foodfacts.com wants to make you more aware of what controversial ingredients are being put into our foods. Sodium nitrate is a food additive in processed meats used to prevent the deadly bacteria botulism from growing. It is found in processed meats such as hot dogs, bologna, bacon, deli meats, ham and salami. It is this preservative that gives pink color to these meats. There are some harmful effects of eating these meats and taking in high amounts of sodium nitrates that you should be aware of.
Sodium nitrate additives cause the formation of nitrosamines in the body, which are cancer-causing chemicals. Sodium nitrate is being linked to colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer, but research still is being done to determine the relationship between this additive and other cancers. According to Medicalnewstoday.com, 90 percent of nitrites and nitrates have been determined as carcinogenic to the body and specific organs.
Increased Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes
Sodium nitrate might damage blood vessels, causing the narrowing and hardening of arteries, which can lead to heart disease, says MayoClinic.com. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that eating processed meats increases your risk of heart disease by 42 percent and diabetes by 19 percent compared with non-processed meats with the same saturated fat content. Further studies are being done on the possible link between insulin-dependent diabetes and sodium nitrates.
High Blood Pressure
High sodium foods are the leading cause of high blood pressure, and additives such as sodium nitrates add even more sodium than what is naturally found in the product. Read through the ingredients list on the food label to look for additives such as sodium nitrate, sodium alginate, monosodium glutamate, all of which add unnecessary sodium to your diet.
Increased Death Rates from Disease
According to Dailyscience.com, a study by researchers at Rhode Island Hospital found a substantial link between increased levels of nitrates in our environment and food with increased deaths from diseases, including Alzheimer’s, diabetes mellitus and Parkinson’s. These diseases are associated with increased insulin resistance and DNA damage, which has drastically increased and is thought to be related to nitrates.