Food preservatives in processed meat may cause Type 2 diabetes: Study
Food preservatives that give sausages and bacon their characteristic pink hue and distinctive flavour could cause type 2 diabetes.
The additives, known as nitrites, have been found to raise the risk of the metabolic disease, according to new research.
Chemicals used in these food preservatives occur naturally in water and soil, and are used in certain foods to increase their shelf life.
Lead author of the study, Dr Bernard Srour, of Sorbonne Paris Nord University, said: “These results provide a new piece of evidence in the context of current discussions regarding the need for a reduction of nitrite additives’ use in processed meats by the food industry.
“They could support the need for better regulation of soil contamination by fertilisers.
“In the meantime, several public health authorities worldwide already recommend citizens to limit their consumption of foods containing controversial additives, including sodium nitrite.”
Nitrites have also been linked to fuelling tumours. They are found in other cured and processed meats including ham, pates and salami.
The products are treated with nitrite or nitrate salts to keep them looking and tasting fresh.
It is the first time the role of the dietary additives have been explored in metabolic dysfunction and type 2 diabetes in humans.
The team accessed data collected from 104,168 over-14s in France who have been tracked since 2009.
The researchers found those with a higher overall intake of nitrites - specifically from food additives - had a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Participants enrolled voluntarily and self-reported medical history, sociodemographic, diet, lifestyle and major health updates.
Around five million people in the UK have diabetes - with 90 percent of cases the type 2 form caused by unhealthy lifestyles.
The findings of the study were published in journal Plos Medicine.