Bacon and sausage sandwiches have been linked to type 2 diabetes, due to the presence of additives to preserve their shelf life.
On Tuesday, a study published in the PLOS Medicine journal suggests an association between dietary exposure to nitrites and the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Nitrites and nitrates occur naturally in water and soil and are commonly ingested from drinking water and dietary sources. They are also used as additives in bacon and sausages.
Some public health authorities have advocated limiting the use of nitrites and nitrates as food additives.
Researchers studied the data collected from 104,168 participants to develop statistical models to analyze self-reported diet information with health outcomes.
Participants reporting a higher intake of nitrites overall and specifically from food additives, and non-additives sources were found to have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
There was no association between nitrates and type 2 diabetes risk, and the findings did not support any potential benefits for dietary nitrites or nitrates in terms of protection against type 2 diabetes.
The study had several limitations and additional research is required to validate the results. The data were self-reported and the researchers could not confirm specific nitrite/nitrate exposure using biomarkers due to the underlying biological challenges.
Additionally, the cohort included a greater number of younger individuals, more often women, who exhibited healthier behaviours.
‘These results provide a new piece of evidence in the context of current discussions regarding the need for a reduction of nitrite additives’ use in processed meats by the food industry, and could support the need for better regulation of soil contamination by fertilizers,’ said the researchers.
‘In the meantime, several public health authorities worldwide already recommend citizens to limit their consumption of foods containing controversial additives, including sodium nitrite,’
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