How and Why to Avoid Carcinogenic Nitrites While Pregnant and Nursing

How and Why to Avoid Carcinogenic Nitrites While Pregnant and Nursing

What are nitrites?

Nitrites are an industrial food additive used to give deli meats and hot dogs a redder, fresher appearance.

Why are nitrites harmful?

Nitrites combine with the protein in meats to form carcinogenic S-Nitroso compounds. When eaten by a pregnant mother, hot dogs have been found to greatly increase a child’s chances of developing brain tumors. Nitrites in foods such as hot dogs, deli meats, and pork products are also linked to leukemia.

How do I avoid nitrites?

Most cured meats contain nitrites. This includes hot dogs, deli meats, bacon, sausage, and industrially-prepared jerky and dried fish, and more. Avoiding nitrites is very simple once you know that fresh meats do not contain nitrites. In order to avoid nitrites, do the following:

⁃ When eating any meat products, use only fresh cuts of meat
⁃ If you decide to buy jerky, make sure the label says it’s nitrite-free

Hot dogs, deli meats and other processed meats are not healthy foods to begin with, and the nitrite content makes them even more damaging. For the sake of your own health, your baby’s health, and the health of the environment, Vibrant Healthy Baby strongly encourages all pregnant women to eat animal foods responsibly by choosing organic, fresh, free range, and local meats as much as possible. Animal food intake should be optimized to your own body’s ideal level, which is generally less than what is found in the average American diet.

Nitrite Journal Articles:

1. Sarasua S, Savitz DA. Cured and broiled meat consumption in relation to childhood cancer: Denver, Colorado (United States). Cancer Causes Control. 1994;5(2):141-148. Available at: [Accessed August 3, 2010].
2. Bunin GR, Kuijten RR, Boesel CP, Buckley JD, Meadows AT. Maternal diet and risk of astrocytic glioma in children: a report from the Childrens Cancer Group (United States and Canada). Cancer Causes Control. 1994;5(2):177-187. Available at: [Accessed August 3, 2010].
3. Peters JM, Preston-Martin S, London SJ, et al. Processed meats and risk of childhood leukemia (California, USA). Cancer Causes Control. 1994;5(2):195-202. Available at: [Accessed August 3, 2010].
4. Ward MH. Too much of a good thing? Nitrate from nitrogen fertilizers and cancer. Rev Environ Health. 2009;24(4):357-363. Available at: [Accessed August 3, 2010].