Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jan. 21:Toxin of the Day ~ Sodium Nitrate & Nitrite

Today's lucky toxin winner.....SODIUM NITRATE/NITRITE!

Nitrates and Nitrites (first cousins in the preservative family) are preservatives that are widely used. They are most prominent in processed meats. They add a pinkish color to the meat, which would otherwise be an unappetizing brown or gray. They also inhibit the growth of spores that could potentially cause botulism. They are present in most smoked and cured meats, including but not limited to: ham, bacon, lunch meat, hot dogs, bologna, salami, dry sausage, and fresh sausage.

Nitrates and -ites on their own are relatively harmless. The problems occur when the body goes to break those chemicals down. As they are metabolized they convert to NITROSAMINES, which have been proven to be extremely dangerous. Nitrosamines are linked to stomach cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer and esophageal cancer. In babies, nitrates can lead to a potentially fatal condition called methemoglobinemia. This means that it can cause an issue in the child where the blood is not transporting oxygen to the body's tissues, which can lead to oxygen deprivation and cyanosis.

One extremely alarming study undertaken by the Cancer Prevention Coalition in Los Angeles County stated that children that consumed more than 12 hot dogs per month have 9 times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia. The statistics were also poor for children whose fathers consumed 12 hot dogs per month during the time of conception. If their mothers consumed hot dogs more than once a week during pregnancy the child's risk of brain tumors doubled.

Also cooking foods containing nitrates using extreme high heat cooking methods like frying can cause the conversion to a more harmful chemical to occur. If you MUST eat hot dogs or pepperoni, boiling is preferable to high heat baking, grilling or frying. (Boiled pepperoni?)

Many vegetables also contain nitrates and -ites. However the vitamins C and D present in vegetables inhibit the metabolizing of the chemical into nitrosamines. So that means our veggie supply is safe.

Strong recommendations have been made against the consumption of nitrates and nitrites, particularly in pregnant or breast feeding women and young children. Some of the organizations making these recommendations are:

The Cancer Prevention Coalition, Health Canada and the American Society for Clinical Nutrition

After researching this, I have to say, bacon has lost a great deal of it's appeal for me.

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