By Alanna Nuñez, Shape
8. Sodium Nitrate And Nitrite
“Nitrites are added to meats such as hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats as a preservative, but they may form nitrosamines when in the body, which may promote cancer growth,” Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., R.D., says. In fact, a 2009 study found that kids who ate cured meats or fish more than once a week had a 74 percent greater risk of leukemia than children who rarely ate those foods.
Try to limit your consumption of cured meats to no more than three per week and avoid hot dogs entirely if you can: A 2011 study found that even organic and “natural” hot dogs contained anywhere from one-half to 10 times the amount of nitrites than conventional hot dogs did, and that natural bacon had between a third and three times the amount of nitrites of conventional bacon.
But don’t worry about the nitrates and nitrites found naturally in vegetables — the antioxidants in veggies inhibit them from converting into harmful compounds.