Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Meat preservatives may cause cancer -- US study

Meat preservatives may cause cancer -- US study
Agence France-Presse
Last updated 10:12am (Mla time) 08/16/2006

WASHINGTON -- The humble hot dog, and other meats preserved with nitrites, may cause genetic mutations known to cause cancer, said a study out Tuesday. The University of Nebraska Medical Center began their study off-campus.

"We bought at a supermarket large batches of hot dogs," lead researcher Sidney Mirvish told Agence France-Presse.

"We examined the hot dogs -- wieners, frankfurters or sausages -- because they are a widely consumed nitrite-preserved meat and because of the proposed linkage of such products with colon cancer," the study said.

The researchers used water to extract compounds in the hot dogs, and found apparent N-nitroso compounds, the study said. The scientists put the water extract in contact with salmonella bacteria, which before long showed a significant mutation of its genetic code.

"Most N-nitroso compounds are carcinogenic in laboratory animals," according to the study, "And these compounds are likely risk factors for the induction of several types of human cancer."

"Sodium nitrite is added to certain meat and fish products as a preservative," the study said. "If we show that's bad, they might change the manufacturing method of hot dog," the study said.

Not so, said an industry group. The American Meat Institute said the study did not at all represent the reality of hot dog manufacture.

They said the level of nitrites in the Mirvish study was much higher than what is used in today's meat products. The study should not be used to place the hot dog into question, said James Hodges of the institute.

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