Nitrosamine is a toxin linked closely with cancer in the lungs, brain, liver, kidneys, bladder, stomach, esophagus, etc. Recently, nitrosamine has been found in a blood pressure drug, Accuretic, manufactured by Pfizer.
https://www.newsmax.com/health/health-news/accuretic-blood-pressure-medication-pfizer/2022/03/22/id/1062321/. Elevated levels of nitrosamine were discovered recently in Accuretic, and Pfizer reported that there is not an immediate risk. Pfizer recalled this drug. Additionally, Pfizer recommends that patients using this drug talk to the physicians about an alternative treatment option.
OK, no risk, yet change medicines, eh? Yes, nitrosamines are found in other products, especially cooked bacon, cured meats, cosmetics, etc. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4609975/.
Is it a health risk if found in so many products we consume regularly? Or is it the level of nitrosamine detected? It depends on whether the sodium nitrites or sodium nitrates are synthetic or natural, such as those contained in celery powder. Nitrites are added to processed foods to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/nitrosamine. Nitrates and nitrites have been used as preservatives for longer than we care to remember. Salt is used in ‘uncured’ meats instead of nitrites. However, some consider salt a health hazard almost equal to nitrosamines.
Regardless, nitrosamines result from chemical reactions of nitrates to nitrites by the enzyme nitrate reductase or other secondary or tertiary amines. Nitrites react with proteins, such as N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), and become nitrosamines.
Avoiding any foods with nitrates and nitrites will help immensely. However, some foods are difficult to avoid – like bacon! I have been buying uncured bacon for a few years. Is there a real advantage?
Maybe, maybe not? My bacon is nitrite-free, and no preservatives are added. It does have sea salt and celery extract listed on the label.
What minimizes or inhibits the chemical reactions that lead to the formation of nitrosamines? Vitamin E (all eight compounds), vitamin C, selenium, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid. Increasing your daily intake of antioxidants can also be of immense benefit.
https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cooked-meats-fact-sheet. This fact sheet is a good source for the dangers and options of cooking meats. Some recommendations include avoiding direct flame, hot metal surface, long high-temperature cooking times, continuously turning meat, and removing charred portions of cooked meat.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15284391/. Nitrosamines are not the only worry when it comes to our foods and potential cancer sources. Nitrosocompounds increase as meat is cooked at high temperatures. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (HCA) and heterocyclic amine (HA) are the byproducts.
Is Pfizer using nitrosamines for preservation? I do not know. The article did not go into detail, and my research did not specifically say they did. However, it had to get into the blood pressure medicine. Pfizer. And then there was the recall indicating some level of safety concern.
Coincidentally, not long ago, Pfizer recalled its anti-smoking drug, Chantix, due to nitrosamine levels.
The level and duration of nitrosamines determine the risk of future health problems. Very low levels of sporadic exposure to nitrosamine should not be near the concern of daily exposure to higher levels. How much and how long are still unknown.
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