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WASHINGTON - Could the salt that preserves hot dogs also preserve your health? Scientists at the National Institutes of Health think so. They've begun infusing sodium nitrite into volunteers in hopes that it could prove a cheap but potent treatment for sickle cell anemia, heart attacks, brain aneurysms, even an illness that suffocates babies.
Those ailments have something in common: They hinge on problems with low oxygen, problems the government's research suggests nitrite can ease.
Beyond repairing the reputation of this often maligned meat preservative, the work promises to rewrite scientific dogma about how blood flows, and how the body tries to protect itself when that flow is blocked. Indeed, nitrite seems to guard tissues — in the heart, the lungs, the brain — against cellular death when they become starved of oxygen.
Hotdogs are good for you?
the work promises to rewrite scientific dogma about how blood flows, and how the body tries to protect itself when that flow is blocked