7

votes

Does Chris Kresser's article on nitrates/nitrites persuade you of cured meat safety?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created October 13, 2012 at 1:04 PM

The Nitrate and Nitrite Myth

Cured meat safety arises as a topic of interest on PH frequently. Does this article mollify your concerns?

Consider reviewing the comments and Kresser's responses. Lots of good discussion there, including the proper use of epidemiological studies. Kresser seems to argue not that the studies have no value, but that upon scrutiny, their results don't seem to support the conclusions they initially drew. (I tend to get a bit lost once the chemistry talk emerges.)

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 14, 2012
at 03:03 PM

Mmmmmm.....bacon. Guess whats for breaky :)....Hey I'm also gonna have spare ribs for dinner ...with *gasp and horror* some nitrate laden vegetables!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2012
at 11:58 AM

Matt, I've no idea what you mean by health consciousness of study subjects.

E253f8ac1d139bf4d0bfb44debd1db21

on October 14, 2012
at 10:08 AM

Matt, have you overloaded on the nitrate? You're seeing black helicopters!

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 14, 2012
at 05:12 AM

Oh come on, Harry. Whole wheat good health link: 'it must be more complicated than than' Cured meat bad health link: 'it is most definitely the bacon, stop eating it now!' Double standard much? The funny thing is that it all can be explained by health consciousness of the study subjects.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 14, 2012
at 03:28 AM

"At the risk of sounding condescending"...too late, and actually quite irrelevant since I feel so superior :).

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 14, 2012
at 02:46 AM

Just to point out some other blatantly assuming points without validation in your argument.... "medical and scientific community"...are they truly one? Do you even know what goes into clinical guidelines and how often they are updated?....Fringe and unorthodox is obviously used derogatorily and this along with what follows is all an appeal to authority without any contribution to evidence or the SCIENTIFIC debate.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 14, 2012
at 02:38 AM

LOL...what you refuse to acknowledge is that there IS MORE than just epidemiological study to take into consideration and that when all the data is evaluated the "house of cards" against bacon comes tumbling down. There are so many points wrong with your answer that I don't even know where to start! Chris never suggested that epidemiological studies where useless...he even stated what they where good for and other citations point out WHY the epidemiological studies against cured meats are flawed. "Dispite mountains of data to the contrary"....really? NO not really.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 14, 2012
at 02:31 AM

The good news is you don't HAVE to eat bacon...so move on Harry move on.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 14, 2012
at 02:30 AM

lol............the problem is somehow Harry has dropped in to an abyss of bacon dogma and cannot be pulled out. No amount of evidence can be employed....he is beyond reason.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2012
at 02:28 AM

At the risk of sounding condescending, instead of knee jerk reactions, spend some time reading and understanding the various studies. Understand the methodologies and their conclusions. The authors of these studies are trained scientists and medical professionals with no agenda. Nobody gives a crap about whether you choose to eat bacon or not. But if you're going to proclaim it is a healthy natural food in the face of many epidemiological studies on the contrary, then you sound - and by implication the whole paleo movement sounds - ignorant.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2012
at 02:19 AM

Without citing the specific study/s you refer to I can only speculate but I would hazard a guess that the alternative to grains was having a considerably worse effect on health. Clearly the alternative was certainly not a low processed carb, paleo template, as I'm sure you already know. Ultimately, the type of argument you're using to discredit epidemiological studies only serves to marginalize and discredit the paleo movement.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 14, 2012
at 01:50 AM

^True...I understand the, how should I put it....caution from becoming too anti-CW, but you know what...most of CW is literally decades behind. And as far as "gurus" go....paleo's are some of the most legit thinking people, transparent, and willing to change views with new information that I know in the science and medical communities.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 14, 2012
at 01:47 AM

^True...I understand the, how should I put it....caution from becoming too anti-CW, but you know what...most of CW is literally decades behind. And as far as "gurus" go....paleo's are some of the most legit thinking people without agenda that I know.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on October 14, 2012
at 01:30 AM

What is your opinion on the epidemiological associations found between whole grains and good health or their subsequent citions by Willet, et al. as rationale for the food pyramid type diets frequently recommended by mainstream nutrition authorities?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 14, 2012
at 01:28 AM

But seriously, it's getting old. I think some folks are anti-bacon because they want to second guess the paleo gurus.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 14, 2012
at 12:30 AM

I must say though, every time another of these questions gets posed I become more sure that bacon fears are unfounded! It's kinda nice.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 14, 2012
at 12:09 AM

I'd wager there's not a significant (at least in terms of affecting one's health) between natural nitrite vs industrial nitrite bacon.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 10:34 PM

^ however if you have taken steps to test and remove heavy metals in your drinking water due to perceived or real susceptibilities in your family members you may also find it prudent to go "natural" if I'm reading this right.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 13, 2012
at 10:12 PM

Meh. USDA limits NaNO2 to 200 ppm in product. They claim that industrial food-grade NaNO2 can have up to 10 ppm lead or 3 ppm arsenic. Now multiply 200 ppm by 10 ppm to get 2 ppb. To consume 1 mg of lead, you'd need to consume 2000 kg of bacon. Folks, your drinking water can have more lead than this at EPA action levels.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 08:50 PM

Very interesing Mscott!....so there may be something to going with the "naturally cured" after all. Works out fine for me since that is how my pastured pork comes. Heavy metals ARE a concern for me.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on October 13, 2012
at 05:18 PM

Interesting new take on the natural v. synthetic nitrates debate, discussing heavy metal residues: http://caltonnutrition.com/article.aspx?pid=86

7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on October 13, 2012
at 04:25 PM

In the comment section, he does address the issue of nitrosamine formation.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 04:13 PM

Well if you are interested in the prior debate here you go http://paleohacks.com/questions/139951/do-nitrosamines-produced-in-food-actually-cause-cancer#axzz29BpMScl5

81181cab058dd652659e4bb2e6f25843

(528)

on October 13, 2012
at 04:04 PM

I agree that hes an eloquent writer, and he does have some interesting views but the push to have people effectively eat processed/cured meats to theirs hearts content I see as irresponsible given his base audience and clout. his level of skepticism is almost as demonstrably overly skeptic.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 03:23 PM

As to nitrosamine formation....how would you mitigate that? Would you add some vitamin C maybe?....cook at lower temperatures now that you are informed? Of the 10 parts per million that are unbound and with sufficient vitamin C and a low cooking temp how much nitrosamine are we now talking?...and does that amount show negative health effect?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 03:22 PM

As to nitrosamine formation....how would you mitigate that? Would you add some vitamin C maybe?....cook at lower temperatures not that you are informed? Of the 10 parts per million that are unbound and with sufficient vitamin C and a low cooking temp how much nitrosamine are we now talking...and does that amount show negative health effect?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 03:20 PM

I think most that follow the health crisis have come to view western lifestyle and our model of health care with considerable skepticism. I really don't see anything more or less valid to his worldviews, especially if it allows him to assess the evidence in a new light and provide relevant opinion. I don't frequent his blog, but the couple articles I've seen are written quite well.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 03:19 PM

I think most that follow the health crisis have come to view western lifestyle and our model of health care with considerable skepticism. I really see anything more or less valid to his worldviews, especially if it allows him to assess the evidence in a new light and provide relevant opinion. I don't frequent his blog, but the couple articles I've seen are written quite well.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 03:19 PM

I think most that follow the health crisis have come to view western lifestyle and our model of health care with considerable skepticism. I really see anything more or less valid to his worldviews, especially if it allows him to assess the evidence in and provide relevant opinion. I don't frequent his blog, but the couple articles I've seen are written quite well.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 13, 2012
at 02:40 PM

It's the bacon lobby, black helicopters and the Illuminati!

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 02:28 PM

Nobody tell Harry about this question...his head may implode.

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4 Answers

3
62fafa8cb15af7c562fa8c270f7b6174

on October 13, 2012
at 09:46 PM

My answer to this question is no. I don't think Kresser intended to pass a blessing on all cured meat, just point up flaws in the nitrate/nitrite/nitrosamine argument. I'm new to this whole paleo thing and switched back to local cured bacon after reading his article. Previous I had been diving into the uncured trough at Whole Foods for the cheapest uncured offering (which is far from cheap). I find the fat renders much more clean tasting and smooth from the uncured bacon, there is also less sugary crispiness. This is more convincing to me of an important difference in quality. So the argument is between quality of my bacon grease and cured bacon at 1/2 the price. This week, price won and nitrosamines had no say in the matter.

3
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 02:33 PM

This has been hashed out here recently in a couple of questions. Essentially I came to the same conclusion as him before that debate started....which is to quote "There???s no reason to fear nitrates and nitrites in food. No reason to buy nitrate-free, uncured bacon. No reason to avoid cured meats in general, particularly those from high quality sources."

2
81181cab058dd652659e4bb2e6f25843

(528)

on October 13, 2012
at 03:06 PM

He completely sidesteps the issue of nitrosamine formation during cooking. 1) nitrosamines are carcinogenic. 2) Nitrosamines apparently form in a dose and time dependent manner i.e. depending on temp. and more likely temp*time (temp*time is roughly the total energy imparted on the bacon). Kresser either chose not to acknowledge these facts or he simply doesn't understand. Either way it seems to fit very nicely within his worldview he serves up of everything that CW says is wrong (integrative medicine, eastern spirituality, acupuncture), he seems like a standard woo-meiser and should be viewed with considerable skepticism, no matter how many 'credentials' he has. Strikes me as a Deepak Choprah-light.

81181cab058dd652659e4bb2e6f25843

(528)

on October 13, 2012
at 04:04 PM

I agree that hes an eloquent writer, and he does have some interesting views but the push to have people effectively eat processed/cured meats to theirs hearts content I see as irresponsible given his base audience and clout. his level of skepticism is almost as demonstrably overly skeptic.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 04:13 PM

Well if you are interested in the prior debate here you go http://paleohacks.com/questions/139951/do-nitrosamines-produced-in-food-actually-cause-cancer#axzz29BpMScl5

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 03:19 PM

I think most that follow the health crisis have come to view western lifestyle and our model of health care with considerable skepticism. I really see anything more or less valid to his worldviews, especially if it allows him to assess the evidence in a new light and provide relevant opinion. I don't frequent his blog, but the couple articles I've seen are written quite well.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 03:19 PM

I think most that follow the health crisis have come to view western lifestyle and our model of health care with considerable skepticism. I really see anything more or less valid to his worldviews, especially if it allows him to assess the evidence in and provide relevant opinion. I don't frequent his blog, but the couple articles I've seen are written quite well.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 03:23 PM

As to nitrosamine formation....how would you mitigate that? Would you add some vitamin C maybe?....cook at lower temperatures now that you are informed? Of the 10 parts per million that are unbound and with sufficient vitamin C and a low cooking temp how much nitrosamine are we now talking?...and does that amount show negative health effect?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 03:22 PM

As to nitrosamine formation....how would you mitigate that? Would you add some vitamin C maybe?....cook at lower temperatures not that you are informed? Of the 10 parts per million that are unbound and with sufficient vitamin C and a low cooking temp how much nitrosamine are we now talking...and does that amount show negative health effect?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 13, 2012
at 03:20 PM

I think most that follow the health crisis have come to view western lifestyle and our model of health care with considerable skepticism. I really don't see anything more or less valid to his worldviews, especially if it allows him to assess the evidence in a new light and provide relevant opinion. I don't frequent his blog, but the couple articles I've seen are written quite well.

7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on October 13, 2012
at 04:25 PM

In the comment section, he does address the issue of nitrosamine formation.

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 13, 2012
at 11:23 PM

Kresser dismisses epidemiological studies en masse as having no value and then cites a 2006 review to support his conclusions. Amongst the ones he dismisses are 2 very large prospective studies published in 2011 and 2012 with sample population numbers >400,000.

The problem with Kresser and many here that choose to dismiss epidemiological studies is that they don't understand what an epidemiological study is.

Firstly, epidemiology is one of the ways in which disease is studied, along with molecular, tissue (organ systems) and at individual level. Epidemiology is the study of disease in populations.

There is classic epidemiology, which looks at the relationship between health problems and specific populations, and clinical epidemiology which looks at patients in a health care setting.

The primary goal of epidemiology is to improve decisions related to maintenance of health and avoidance of disease.

The issue is not with the epidemiological evidence, which is clear for anyone - with an understanding of how to interpret such studies - to see. The problem is a prevailing attitude amongst those who espouse fringe, unorthodox and often clinically ineffectual health practices that the medical and scientific community is conspiring against the individual and that it???s conclusions should not be trusted. A common argument to invoke is that ??? despite mountains of data to the contrary ??? it must be a particular type of study only that can provide evidence of causality and if such a study cannot be found then that constitutes proof of no association.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on October 14, 2012
at 01:30 AM

What is your opinion on the epidemiological associations found between whole grains and good health or their subsequent citions by Willet, et al. as rationale for the food pyramid type diets frequently recommended by mainstream nutrition authorities?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 14, 2012
at 02:30 AM

lol............the problem is somehow Harry has dropped in to an abyss of bacon dogma and cannot be pulled out. No amount of evidence can be employed....he is beyond reason.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2012
at 11:58 AM

Matt, I've no idea what you mean by health consciousness of study subjects.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 14, 2012
at 02:46 AM

Just to point out some other blatantly assuming points without validation in your argument.... "medical and scientific community"...are they truly one? Do you even know what goes into clinical guidelines and how often they are updated?....Fringe and unorthodox is obviously used derogatorily and this along with what follows is all an appeal to authority without any contribution to evidence or the SCIENTIFIC debate.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 14, 2012
at 02:19 AM

Without citing the specific study/s you refer to I can only speculate but I would hazard a guess that the alternative to grains was having a considerably worse effect on health. Clearly the alternative was certainly not a low processed carb, paleo template, as I'm sure you already know. Ultimately, the type of argument you're using to discredit epidemiological studies only serves to marginalize and discredit the paleo movement.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 14, 2012
at 02:31 AM

The good news is you don't HAVE to eat bacon...so move on Harry move on.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on October 14, 2012
at 02:38 AM

LOL...what you refuse to acknowledge is that there IS MORE than just epidemiological study to take into consideration and that when all the data is evaluated the "house of cards" against bacon comes tumbling down. There are so many points wrong with your answer that I don't even know where to start! Chris never suggested that epidemiological studies where useless...he even stated what they where good for and other citations point out WHY the epidemiological studies against cured meats are flawed. "Dispite mountains of data to the contrary"....really? NO not really.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 14, 2012
at 05:12 AM

Oh come on, Harry. Whole wheat good health link: 'it must be more complicated than than' Cured meat bad health link: 'it is most definitely the bacon, stop eating it now!' Double standard much? The funny thing is that it all can be explained by health consciousness of the study subjects.

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