Processed meats often contain nitrate and nitrite, both used as preservatives in hot dogs, pepperoni, and deli cold cuts. The good news is that the cancer link comes with eating large amounts of the processed meats.
Researchers believe that what may happen is that when processed meats are eaten in large quantities over a long period of time, the preservatives could interfere with the bladder’s lining.
Researchers, led by Amanda J. Cross, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute, followed more than 300,000 men and women between 50 and 71 years old for seven years. There were 854 cases (720 men and 134 women) of bladder cancer discovered during the study.
Those people who had the highest amount of total dietary intake of nitrite or nitrate had about a 29 percent higher risk of developing bladder cancer. The researchers found a clear link between red meat cold cuts and the risk for bladder cancer. However, the cancer was not associated with eating bacon, beef, hamburger, sausage, steak, chicken, and turkey.
“Our findings highlight the importance of studying meat-related compounds to better understand the association between meat and cancer risk,” said Dr. Cross.