Too much kimchi might be bad for you

Recently, I started making my own sauerkraut, which is much better tasting than store bought. There have been stories suggesting that fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut are good for your immune system. (Here's a BBC story about claims that kimchi may cure bird flu.)

So this article about Kimchi in the LA Times caught my eye. The Chinese World Journal of Gastroenterology recently ran a report titled "Kimchi and Soybean Pastes Are Risk Factors of Gastric Cancer."

The researchers, all South Korean, report that kimchi and other spicy and fermented foods could be linked to the most common cancer among Koreans. Rates of gastric cancer among Koreans and Japanese are 10 times higher than in the United States.

"We found that if you were a very, very heavy eater of kimchi, you had a 50% higher risk of getting stomach cancer," said Kim Heon of the department of preventive medicine at Chungbuk National University and one of the authors. "It is not that kimchi is not a healthy food — it is a healthy food, but in excessive quantities there are risk factors."

It could be that the danger of kimchi might be from the large amount of salt in it, "which could combine with red pepper to form a carcinogen."

In any case, I'm not going to stop making sauerkraut. I don't use much salt when I make it anyway. Link