Dietary nitrites linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes

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A recent study conducted by the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team (EREN-CRESS) of Inserm has found a correlation between dietary nitrites and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Nitrites and nitrates occur naturally in water and soil and are commonly ingested from drinking water and dietary sources. They are also frequently used as food additives to extend the shelf life of products.

Previous Studies

While previous studies have proposed limiting the use of nitrites and nitrates as food additives, the role these substances play in metabolic issues and type 2 diabetes in humans remains unclear.

The Study

The research team analyzed data from 104,168 participants in the prospective cohort NutriNet-Santé.

They discovered that participants reporting a higher intake of nitrites, both from food additives and non-additive sources, had a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The study found no link between nitrates and type 2 diabetes risk. Furthermore, the findings did not indicate any potential benefits for dietary nitrites or nitrates in terms of protection against type 2 diabetes.

Implications and Recommendations

According to the researchers, these findings provide new evidence regarding current discussions on the necessity to reduce the use of nitrite additives in processed meats by the food industry.

They could also support the need for stricter regulation of soil contamination by fertilizers.

Several public health authorities worldwide already recommend limiting the consumption of foods containing controversial additives, including sodium nitrite.


This is the first large-scale study to suggest a direct link between additives-originated nitrites and the risk of type-2 diabetes. It also supports previously suggested associations between total dietary nitrites and type 2 diabetes risk.

For more on diabetes, refer to recent studies indicating that people with diabetes on Medicare Advantage plans are more likely to have worse health, and that green tea and coffee could help reduce the death risk in diabetes patients.

For more on nutrition, refer to recent studies showing that blueberries strongly benefit people with metabolic syndrome and that vitamin D could improve blood pressure in people with diabetes.

The study, conducted by Bernard Srour and colleagues, was published in PLOS Medicine.

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