Sometimes I come across studies that compel me to take note. The correlation between nitrates found in foods like lunch meats, bacon and hot dogs with cancers like brain tumors and childhood leukemia made me take note. I would be highly interested in seeing more studies about this connection, but in the mean time, since so many of our readers are pregnant, I’m just passing along what I read.
Apparently, N-nitroso compounds and their precursors, the most potent nervous system carcinogens known in experimental animals. The nitrates in foods like lunch meats, bacon, and hot dogs create these compounds in our bodies. According to a study done by the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California School of Medicine, when a mother ingested these compounds, an increased the risk that their children would develop brain cancer and leukemia was demonstrated. A similar, but slightly larger study by the same department indicated that daily use of prenatal vitamins throughout the pregnancy decreased risk that nitrates would cause cancers. The school also studied the relationship between the intake of certain foods and the risk of leukemia in children from birth to age 10 in Los Angeles County over a seven year span. The study found that children eating more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia.
I found these results to become even more profound when I found studies stating that ingestion of these compounds is being implicated as a cause for other cancers in the general population such as colon cancer. It’s disturbing that given these elevated risks, nitrates are found heavily in places that should be providing the healthiest meals: School and Hospital Cafeterias.
I guess what I’m saying is that, I don’t know that these studies cover a large enough population to indicate a conclusive connection, but if I were pregnant again, I doubt I’d be eating bacon at the rate I previously did.