Deaths from Alzheimer’s disease & diabetes, as well as Parkinson’s, have increased notably over the last 40 years. Alongside this, the use of nitrites and nitrates in food preservation, processing and fertilizers has multiplied hundreds of times over. Recent research links the two, resulting in significant implications for the future use of these chemicals.
Nitrites and nitrates are known to be dangerous to humans. The majority of them cause cancer. Nevertheless, we are ingesting more and more of these chemicals daily.
Fertilizers are nitrate-based and contaminate both food and water. Manufacturing these pesticides as well as other products such as rubber and cosmetics also increases our exposure to nitrates.
When nitrites and proteins interact, nitrosamines are formed. Sodium nitrite is typically added to fish and meat in order to preserve it. So, foods such as processed meats, bacon and certain cheese products, which are high in protein, will contain nitrosamines.
Nitrosamines have been studied widely and conclusively found to be carcinogenic. They act at a cellular level and actually damage DNA. This cellular affect is similar to that which occurs in aging as well as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Nitrate Usage Linked To Disease
Suzanne de la Monte, MD, MPH, Rhode Island Hospital (also a professor of pathology and lab medicine at the Medical School of Brown University) and her team investigated the change in severity of certain age-associated diseases over time, together with the increase in our exposure to harmful nitrate chemicals
Using data on cases of Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers analyzed mortality rates over the period 1968 to 2005 in the age group of 75 to 84 years old. The death rate increased from 0 deaths per 100,000 to 150! Mortality as a result of Parkinson’s increased across all age groups. This was not the case in other diseases associated with aging such as cardiovascular disease. It seems that it is the diseases that lead to an increased resistance to insulin and damage to DNA that have shown an increase in death rates.
Because there has been such a sudden and significant increase in mortality rates it is unlikely that the cause has been genetic. The evidence points to an external factor, in other words, something that people have only relatively recently started to come in contact with on a large scale. This theory is supported by the fact that the death rate increases were significantly higher in the older age groups – possibly because these people had longer exposure to the external factor.
De la Monte’s team then researched the increase in consumption of nitrate-fertilizers, grain, watermelon and cantaloupe, as well as sales at major fast food chains and a large meat-processing company. (Cantaloupe was used as a control as it is not usually exposed to nitrates.)
Between 1955 and 2005, the use of nitrate-containing fertilizer increased by 230 percent. On the fast food and meat-processing side, sales increased more than 8 times in the period from 1970 to 2005 whilst, in this same period, grain consumption rose 5 times.
In summary, nitrosamines have a similar effect on the body as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes; therefore, it seems plausible that the increase in our exposure to nitrites and nitrates is causing the relatively sudden increased incidence and severity of these diseases. The research was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Volume 17:3 July 2009).
Should this hypothesis be true, steps need to be taken to prevent exposure to these chemicals. This would mean changing methods for processing food, preservation and farming, as well as finding means to remove any toxins from food and water.