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Bacon and Leukemia in Kids

Kids who eat bacon and other meats containing nitrites more than once a week have a 74 percent increased risk of leukemia than children who did not eat these foods.

Conversely, children whose ate veggies and soy regularly have more protection against cancer.

The study found the steep increase in 515 Taiwanese children and teenagers with and without acute leukemia. While researchers did post the study in the online journal BMC Central, they warned against giving it cause-and-effect status just yet.  Long term studies must be done.

Still, kids should limit their intake of these foods.  Though diets obviously vary between different cultures, researcher Dr. David C. Christiani said that nitrates are in cured meats and fish regardless of where in the world you’re eating them.

During the curing process, foods are preserved and flavored by the addition of salt, sugar and chemicals called nitrites; the foods are often smoked as well. Nitrites are precursors to compounds known as nitrosamines, which are potentially cancer-promoting.

But as we all know, fruits, vegetables, and soy products contain antioxidants, which protect against cancer and other diseases.

Until we hear differently, limit these salty delicious foods and head for the colorful produce aisles, especially for our little ones.

Source: Reuters Health

Image: nexus_icon on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.


  1. Thanks for this post. Do you know how you can tell if a meat contains nitrates? Is it listed as an ingredient?

    My kids certainly eat fruits and vegetables, but we do have bacon once or twice per week as a treat and I do send my son roasted turkey sandwiches for school lunches on the days when I don’t have leftovers to send.

  2. I’m sure that most products do not say “nitrites” in the ingredient list. To be a smart mama shopper on this one, you’ll have to follow the same pattern you use for shopping for plastic and look for “nitrate/nitrite free” just like you look for “BPA and phthalate free.”
    I, too, will have some replacing to do. Whatever will I cook with my Southern Style Greens?!

  3. Proud Parent says:

    Well, if you are really concerned about nitrates, you should be more concerned about your “southern style greens” than the meat you put in them. There have been hundreds of articles and scientific studies that go against this proposition—that nitrates cause cancer. While understanding the chemical degradation of nitrate in the body could theoretically release carcinogens, it has never panned out that way in studies. Furthermore, we get far more nitrate/nitrite from vegetables (EVEN ORGANIC VEGETABLES) than we do from meats. There are several other reasons to avoid cured meats (high salt and/or sugar content) but ingestion of nitrates is not one of them. While the alarmists are more vocal on the internet, there is tons of legitimate research on the subject if you are willing to dig. BPA…..that’s a whole different subject……..I too have cleared tossed out lots of plastic!


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