Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital have found a substantial link between increased levels of nitrates in our food with increased deaths from diseases; including Alzheimer’s, diabetes and Parkinson’s. The controversial study, which contends that we have become the “nitrosamine generation,” appears in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Led by Suzanne de la Monte, of Rhode Island Hospital, the researchers studied the trends in mortality rates due to diseases that are associated with aging, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and cerebrovascular disease, as well as HIV. They found strong parallels between age adjusted increases in death rate from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes and the progressive increases in human exposure to nitrates, nitrites and nitrosamines through processed and preserved foods as well as fertilizers. Other diseases including HIV-AIDS, cerebrovascular disease and leukemia did not exhibit those trends.
“We have become a ‘nitrosamine generation.’ In essence, we have moved to a diet that is rich in amines and nitrates, which lead to increased nitrosamine production. We receive increased exposure through the abundant use of nitrate-containing fertilizers for agriculture,” said De la Monte. “Not only do we consume them in processed foods, but they get into our food supply by leeching from the soil and contaminating water supplies used for crop irrigation, food processing and drinking.”
Nitrites and nitrates belong to a class of chemical compounds that have been found to be harmful to humans and animals. More than 90 percent of these compounds that have been tested have been determined to be carcinogenic in various organs. They are found in many food products, including fried bacon, cured meats and cheese products as well as beer and water. Exposure also occurs through rubber and latex products, as well as fertilizers, pesticides and cosmetics.
Nitrosamines are formed by a chemical reaction between nitrites or other proteins. Sodium nitrite is deliberately added to meat and fish to prevent toxin production; it is also used to preserve, color and flavor meats. Ground beef, cured meats and bacon in particular contain abundant amounts of amines due to their high protein content. Nitrosamines are also easily generated under strong acid conditions, such as in the stomach, or at high temperatures associated with frying or flame broiling.
Nitrosamines become highly reactive at the cellular level, which then alters gene expression and causes DNA damage. The researchers note that the role of nitrosamines has been well-studied, and their role as a carcinogen has been fully documented. …
“If this hypothesis is correct, potential solutions include eliminating the use of nitrites and nitrates in food processing, preservation and agriculture; taking steps to prevent the formation of nitrosamines and employing safe and effective measures to detoxify food and water before human consumption,” De la Monte concluded.