Nitrites | The Cancer Risk

Food and health experts say nitrites added to bacon
and ham create cancer-causing chemicals in your stomach...

...And 6,600 cases of colorectal cancer every year in the UK
are directly linked to diets high in processed meats.


UK cancer cases annually

That's four times the number of fatalities on UK roads over the same period.


Cancer cases worldwide annually

The number of colorectal cancer cases every year that can be directly attributed to diets high in processed meats, according to the World Health Organisation.


Increased risk
of bowel cancer

Increased risk of contracting bowel cancer if you eat 50g of processed meat a day.

Nitrates and nitrites are used as additives to improve food quality and protect against contamination - but are sources of N-nitroso compounds which are known carcinogens.

Professor Chris Elliot

Queen's University Belfast | 2017

Scientists define processed meat as:
Meat that has been cured with nitrites and/or smoked...

...And they have directly linked nitrite-cured meat to:
Colorectal cancer, breast cancer, diabetes and mental health problems.

Nitrites from nitrosamines
(many of which are carcinogens).

Central Science Laboratory

UK Government Executive Agency | 2003

15%Increased risk of
breast cancer

Increased risk of women developing breast cancer when they ate even small and infrequent servings of nitrite-cured meat.

Glasgow University, 2018

There is strong evidence that
processed meats - even in small
quantities - increase cancer risk.

World Cancer Research Fund

People suffering mental health problems


more likely to have consumed nitrites

People hospitalised with mental health problems
are three times more likely to have eaten
nitrite-cured meats before their manic episode

Johns Hopkins University 2018

Nitrites are the next sugar [...] Given the emerging
scientific evidence that nitrite-cured processed meats
like bacon and ham produce cancer causing chemicals and increase the risk of colorectal cancer. I am very surprised how little response there has been from some businesses selling these products.

Professor Corinna Hawkes

Director of the Centre for Food Policy, City University London