Study leader Dr. Suzanne de la Monte of Rhode Island Hospital and colleagues studied the trends in mortality rates associated with aging, such as diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes and cerebrovascular disease, as well as HIV.
The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, found strong parallels between age adjusted increases in death rate from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes and the progressive increases in human exposure to nitrates, nitrites and nitrosamines through processed and preserved foods as well as fertilizers.
Other diseases including HIV-AIDS, cerebrovascular disease and leukemia did not exhibit those trends, de la Monte said.
"We have become a 'nitrosamine generation.' In essence, we have moved to a diet that is rich in amines and nitrates, which lead to increased nitrosamine production," de la Monte said in a statement. "We receive increased exposure through the abundant use of nitrate-containing fertilizers for agriculture."
Not only do people consume these in processed foods, but they get into our food supply by leeching from the soil and contaminating water supplies used for crop irrigation, food processing and drinking, de la Monte said.
These substances are found in many food products, including fried bacon, cured meats and cheese products as well as beer and water, de la Monte said.