Health warning for bacon and sausages

Health warning for bacon and sausages

Health warning for bacon and sausages

New health warning on bacon and sausages: Preservatives in cured meats may increase risk of type 2 diabetes by more than 50%, study suggests

  • The researchers accessed data collected from over 100,000 people in France
  • Participants self-reported medical history and diet for the seven-year study
  • However, other experts have expressed concern about the latest findings

Preservatives in cured meats may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by more than half, the study shows.

Researchers say they have found a link between nitrites – used to add color and flavor to meats such as sausages and bacon – and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

The team accessed data collected from more than 100,000 people in the France which were followed since 2009.

Health warning for bacon and sausages

Researchers say they have found a link between nitrites – used to add color and flavor to meats such as sausages and bacon – and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes

Participants volunteered and self-reported their medical history, diet, lifestyle, and significant health updates, and were followed for approximately seven years.

What are nitrites? And how are they different from nitrates?

Nitrites and nitrates are commonly used to dry meat and other perishable products.

They are also added to the meat to keep it red and give it flavor.

Nitrates are also found naturally in vegetables, with the highest concentrations in leafy greens such as spinach and lettuce.

It can also enter the food chain as an environmental pollutant in water, due to its use in intensive farming methods, livestock production and discharge into sewers.

Nitrites in food (and nitrates converted to nitrites in the body) can contribute to the formation of a group of compounds known as nitrosamines, some of which are carcinogenic – that is, they can cause cancer.

In 2015, the World Health Organization warned that there is a significant increase in the risk of bowel cancer due to the consumption of processed meats such as bacon, which are traditionally treated with nitrites.

The current acceptable daily intake of nitrates, according to the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), is 3.7 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day.

EFSA’s acceptable daily intake of nitrite is 0.07 mg per kilogram of body weight each day.

Source: EFSA

The analysis shows that those who had the highest total dietary nitrite intake had a 27 percent higher risk of developing the reversible condition.

The scientists also found that people with the highest intake of sodium nitrite – the most important additive responsible for the characteristic color and flavor of cured meats – had a 53 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Lead author Dr Bernard Srour, from Sorbonne University Paris Nord, said: ‘These results provide new evidence in the context of current debates on the need to reduce the use of nitrite additives’ in processed meat in the food industry.

‘Meanwhile, several public health authorities around the world are already recommending that citizens limit their consumption of foods containing controversial additives, including sodium nitrite.’

The amount of nitrite people consumed from food additives in the study averaged 0.51 mg per day.

The group that consumed the most nitrites had an average of 0.62 mg per day.

One piece of bacon contains about 0.25 mg of nitrite, according to previous research.

Around one in 12 adults in the UK and US have type 2 diabetes, and of these, 90 per cent are overweight or obese.

Previous studies have shown that eating a lot of red, and especially processed meat, is associated with a higher risk of obesity-related conditions.

However, other experts expressed concern about the latest findings and the way in which the intake of food additives was assessed.

They also cautioned that nitrites from food additives only contribute about 4 to 6 percent of total nitrite intake, with the rest coming from other sources such as drinking water.

Tom Sanders, Emeritus Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College London, said: ‘The estimates were based on recall of food intake on two separate occasions at the start of the study with no further assessments over a follow-up period of over seven years.

‘The researchers had to guess which foods contained different nitrite additives, the levels used in the products and the amounts of food consumed.’

dr. Duane Mellor, Registered Dietitian and Senior Lecturer at Aston University, said: ‘When considering the significance of this data, it may be worth noting that nitrites as additives are often used as sodium nitrite used in curing meats such as bacon, which would , if one wanted to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, would be something to encourage people to eat less.

‘The best way to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is to be physically active, maintain a healthy weight and eat a varied diet based on vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and fruit along with whole grains and a moderate intake of dairy products and meat – especially processed meat.’

The findings were published in the journal Plos Medicine.

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