NutriNet-Santé studied the association between nitrite and nitrate intake (from natural food, water, and food additive sources) and the risk of cancer in a sizable prospective cohort research with a thorough dietary assessment.
In soil and water, nitrates and nitrites are produced naturally. They are also utilised in processed meats as food additives (preservatives). They might contribute to the cancer-causing potential of processed beef.
French NutriNet-Santé cohort (2009–present; median follow-up: 6.7 years; 101 056 individuals). Utilizing repeated 24-hour dietary records, a complete database of chemical composition, and taking into account the commercial names and brands of industrial products, the exposure to nitrates and nitrites was assessed. Cox hazard models with multiple adjustment were used to evaluate associations with cancer risk.
3311 incident cases of cancer were discovered in the entire cohort during follow-up, and 78.5 percent of the participants are women, with an enrollment age of 42.3 years on average. Each person had an average of 5.5 24-hour consumption records.
The largest consumers of these products had a 24 percent higher risk of breast cancer compared to people who did not consume foods containing nitrates as food additives; in contrast, the risk of prostate cancer was increased by 58 percent, especially before menopause, while the risk of colorectal cancer was not significantly increased by these two families of additives.
The study lacked statistical power, according to the authors’ hypotheses, for these latter analyses. Nitrites and nitrates from natural sources did not show any correlation to development of cancer.
Nitrate and nitrite food additives, respectively, were strongly correlated with the chances of breast and prostate cancer.
Although these findings require validation in other comprehensive prospective studies, they offer fresh perspectives in the midst of a heated discussion surrounding the elimination of these chemicals from the food sector.