Nitrites found in deli meats increase the risk of having type 2 diabetes

Nitrites found in deli meats increase the risk of having type 2 diabetes

People exposed to nitrites through their diet have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is the conclusion of a recent study conducted by French researchers, the first to observe a direct association between nitrites and diabetes.

Nitrates and nitrites are compounds that occur naturally in water, soil and certain foods such as vegetables. These compounds are also intentionally used in the food industry as food additives. Indeed, they are effective anti-microbial agents against the pathogens responsible for food poisoning, such as salmonellasalmonella or Clostridium (the causative agent of botulism). They also improve the appearance and taste of food. Without added nitrites, white ham is gray for example. Almost all (99%) of our exposure to nitrites comes from food, especially deli meats.

The safety of adding nitrite to the diet is debated among scientists. Last year, the link between nitrites and colorectal cancer was confirmed by ANSES. Today, French researchers affiliatesaffiliates to several research organisations, including Inserm and Inrae, are contributing their stone to this edifice which is still in constructionconstruction by studying the association between type 2 diabetes and nitrite consumption. Their research, published in OLP Medicine this January 17, concludes that people who consumed a lot of total nitrites (from food and other sources) saw their risk of developing type 2 diabetes increase by 27%.

Nitrate, nitrite: what are the differences?

Nitrites and type 2 diabetes, an association never observed before

This is the first study of cohortcohort large scale that suggests an association between nitrites from additives and a potentially increased risk type 2 diabetes “, explain Bernard Srour, post-doctoral researcher at Inserm, and his colleague Mathilde Touvier, director of research also at Inserm, both at the head of this study.

The two researchers and their colleagues used data from the NutriNet-Santé project, launched in 2009 and still ongoing. Volunteers participate by registering on the Internetthe Internet and by answering a detailed questionnaire where they report their medical history, socio-economic status, diet, lifestyle and health problems they have encountered. From this source, the scientists estimated the exposure to nitrites and nitrates of 104,168 people, followed between 2009 and 2021, and developed a statistical model to analyze the association between exposure to nitrites/nitrates and the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

People most exposed to total nitrites, either as a food additive or as a non-additive, had a 27% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The risk is 53% when we consider only nitrites used as additives and 26% for nitrites from other sources. This association concerns only nitrites; no significant association was found for nitrates.

Results to be confirmed

These results provide new evidence in the context of current discussions regarding the need for a reduction in the use of nitrite additives in processed meats by the food industry, and may also support the need for better regulation of nitrite additives. the contaminationcontamination soils with fertilizers. In the meantime, several public health authorities around the world are already recommending that citizens limit their consumption of foods containing controversial additives, including sodium nitrite. conclude the two Inserm scientists.

These conclusions still need to be validated by additional studies because the cohort of the NutriNet-Santé project, which is rather young and female, does not reflect the general population. It nevertheless brings a new argument in favor of limiting the use of nitrites by food professionals.

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