AACR: Hot Dog Carcinogens and Colon Cancer Link Reassessed

Sodium erythorbate does not reduce apparent non-volatile N-nitroso compound level in hot dogs

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Adding sodium erythorbate (ERY) to processed meat more than 30 years ago reduced levels of possibly-carcinogenic volatile N-nitroso compounds, but the rate of colon cancer over that time period did not decrease, according to a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, held from Oct. 22 to 25 in Boston.

Sidney S. Mirvish, Ph.D., from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and colleagues assessed the impact of varying the ascorbate or ERY level on the ANC content of processed meat, testing the hypothesis that the persistently high rate of colon cancer in the United States is related to ANC components (non-volatile N-nitroso compounds, nitrosothiols [RSNO] and iron nitrosyl compounds [RFeNO]). Hot dog patties containing 120 mg/kg (parts per million, ppm) of sodium nitrite (NaNO2) were prepared with varying levels of ERY. Before the analysis for ANC, the levels of RSNO and RFeNO were determined by measuring the loss of ANC on treatment of meat extracts with mercuric chloride and potassium ferricyanide, respectively.

The investigators found that the mean nmol ANC per gram of hot dog patty was 180 for 0 ppm ERY, 117 for 125 ppm ERY, 11 for 250 ppm ERY, 1.6 for 500 ppm ERY, and 3.2 for 1,000 ppm ERY. Significant amounts of RFeNO were not detected. The RSNO contents of patties prepared with 0, 125, and 250 to 1,000 mg/kg of ERY were 78, 90, and 0 percent, respectively.

"In the 1970s it was found that addition of 500 ppm ERY considerably reduced the formation of volatile nitrosamines. This is the reason (which we think is still valid) for the inclusion of ascorbate or ERY in processed meat. An association of processed meat with colon cancer is likely to be due to non-volatile NOC, the level of which was not reduced by the addition of ERY," the authors write. "This is consistent with the finding that the incidence of colon cancer has not fallen since the time when ascorbate or ERY was first added in processed meat."

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