Cold Cut Sandwiches: A (Potentially) Deadly Lunch

It wouldn't be summer without hot dogs and bologna sandwiches, right? Well, you might want to think twice before eating processed meats, because the nitrites and nitrates used to preserve, color and flavor them could cause bladder cancer.

The results from study by the National Institutes of Health and AARP come from data recorded since 1995, from over 300,000 elderly men and women. Those who took part in the study completed questionnaires about the meat they ate and how it was prepared, the data from which was compared with laboratory-measured meat components. In seven years, 854 participants were diagnosed with bladder cancer. Dr. Amanda Cross of the National Cancer Institute told Reuters:

We investigated whether compounds found in meat, formed either during the meat cooking process — heterocyclic amines or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons — or during meat preservation — nitrates and nitrites — were associated with bladder cancer."

Doesn't sound so good! But this all comes with some disclaimers, from Reuters:

The team found that the top fifth of participants in terms of processed red meat consumption had about a 30 percent greater risk of being diagnosed with bladder cancer than those whose consumption ranked in the bottom fifth.

Further, people whose diets included the most nitrites (from all sources, not just meat) and those whose diets had the largest amount of nitrate plus nitrite from processed meats, were also nearly a third more likely to develop bladder cancer compared to people categorized in the bottom fifth for consumption of these compounds, the researchers report in the journal Cancer.

No significant effects were found for total red, white or processed meat consumption. Similarly, no link was made between bladder cancer and the consumption of heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or total nitrites or nitrates from processed meat.

Notice the words "no link" in there? That's a nice way of saying this is all bullshit, so go ahead and stock up on some room temperature, pink ballpark franks. Bon appétit!

[Reuters Health]