Sodium nitrate and its close relative sodium nitrite are preservatives that you find in lots of processed meats. Stuff like salami, pepperoni, hot dogs, bologna, ham, bacon (even turkey bacon), livestock feed (yet another reason to only eat grass-fed beef), and SPAM all normally contain sodium nitrate as one of the ingredients. It’s the ingredient that gives these meats that pretty “reddish-pink” color rather than their natural rotten grey. It makes meats appear “fresh” even if they’ve been on the shelves for months.
Almost all processed meats are made with sodium nitrite, despite that fact that it is a precursor to cancer causing chemicals called nitrosamines. An enormous amount of evidence indicates that nitrosamines are human carcinogens. For instance, tobacco-specific nitrosamines are one of the major groups of chemical carcinogens in tobacco products. Just remember, when you eat bologna or pepperoni or bacon, you are also eating sodium nitrite, which forms nitrosamines, which promotes the growth of cancer cells. Back in the 1970s, the USDA attempted to ban sodium nitrite but failed due to lobbying efforts of the meat processing industry.
Do you want statistics? The University of Hawaii conducted a study that lasted seven years on almost 200,00 people. The results of the research indicated that people who consumed processed meats (such as hot dogs and sausage) had a 67% increased risk of pancreatic cancer over those who consumed little or no meat. Now, I’m not saying that meat products are bad, but almost all processed meats and meats from rBGH cows… they’re terrible! One of the reasons is sodium nitrite. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.