Sodium Nitrite is a preservative that's used to cure various deli meats and bacon, and is used as a coloring agent that can make old meat appear to look red and fresh. But be cautious with how much red meat you eat at fast food chains and from grocery stores, as a 2005 study found a link between sodium nitrite and pancreatic cancer.
Your body relies on sufficient production of hemoglobin to ensure that all internal systems get the oxygen they need to function properly. According to the American Medical Association, a diet high in sodium nitrites may lead to a health condition called methemoglobinemia, which is the inability of your red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout your body. This condition causes respiratory problems and can be fatal. Reducing your intake of foods with sodium nitrites can help prevent this condition.
The reaction that your body has to the ingestion of sodium nitrite can vary depending on how much of it you consume from foods. Phyllis A. Balch reports in her book, "Prescription for Dietary Wellness," that the salts in sodium nitrites can cause a reaction that produces a chemical called nitrosamines, which increase your risk of developing cancer.
The American Medical Association says that sodium nitrites can lead to gastrointestinal and brain cancer. Restricting your intake can help prevent these reactions from occurring.
Type 1 diabetes can occur in infants and young children when their pancreas does not have the ability to produce insulin. This can be a life-threatening condition if insulin levels are not monitored closely. High intake of sodium nitrites while pregnant may increase your baby's risk of developing Type 1 diabetes.
The American Medical Association says that this risk is higher for male babies and occurs because of your body's reaction to sodium nitrite. The risk of juvenile Type 1 diabetes can also occur if your water supply is high in sodium nitrites and you drink it while pregnant or offer it to your young children.
Eating a diet high in foods that contain sodium nitrites can cause irritation to your digestive system, including your mouth, esophagus and stomach. If irritation occurs, you may experience pain, particularly abdominal pain. High consumption of sodium nitrites is also associated with damage to your blood and your blood vessels. At toxic levels, sodium nitrites can also lead to rapid heart rate and difficulty breathing.