Fact: The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), which is considered the "gold standard" in determining whether substances cause cancer, completed a multi-year study in which rats and mice were fed high levels of sodium nitrite. The study, finalized in 2000, found that nitrite was not associated with cancer. NTP maintains a list of chemicals found to be carcinogenic. Sodium nitrite is not on that list.
Not only does nitrite NOT cause cancer, scientists at the National Institutes of Health and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have discovered that nitrite actually has health benefits. When nitrite’s safety was questioned in the 1970s, scientists had not yet discovered that the human body makes nitrite as part of its normal, healthy nitrogen cycle. While this is surprising to many people who for years have thought they should avoid dietary nitrite, study after study has shown that nitrite can help regulate blood pressure, prevent injury from a heart attack, promote would healing and much more.