NITRATES, NITRITES AND NITROSAMINES

Nitrates and nitrites, widely used as food additives in products such as smoked meats and fish, can undergo reactions in the stomach to yield nitrosamines, which are considered to be carcinogenic.

The reaction is encouraged when the compounds are subjected to high heat, such as takes place when bacon is cooked. Since both nitrates and the amines with which they react occur plentifully in many foods, and nitrates are also found in human saliva, elimination of food additives in the diet alone will not on its own prevent the formation of nitrosamines.

The good news is that Vitamin C can block the formation of these carcinogenic compounds.
People whose diets are rich in Vitamin C have been found to be less prone to stomach cancers. Manufacturers of processed meats have taken advantage of this information not only by reducing the amount of nitrites used during processing, but by adding forms of Vitamin C to their products.

Both nitrites and nitrates have been linked with health problems other than cancer. Migraine sufferers might do well to eliminate nitrates from their diets, since these compounds have been known to cause headaches in sensitive individuals. Chronic sufferers of hives are hypersensitive to a number of preservatives, including nitrites.

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