A Hot Dog A Day....Gives You Cancer?Danielle Sullivan
America’s favorite baseball arena treat is coming under fire from more than just the grill. A billboard in Indianapolis compares the cancer risk of eating hot dogs to that of smoking cigarettes.
While most parents would never view a hot dog as a healthy selection, a lot of us do give our kids a hot dog here and there at a baseball game or a family barbecue.
So does the risk pose a real threat?
The billboard is sponsored by the Cancer Project of the non-profit group the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and was placed near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It shows hot dogs packaged in a pseudo cigarette pack that says “Warning: Hot dogs can wreck your health.”
While some claim that the group is pushing their own vegan agenda, the fact remains that hot dogs and other cured meat certainly do increase one’s risk for cancer. The group says that consuming just “one hot dog a day can increase the risk for colorectal cancer by 21 percent. Each year, about 143,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 53,000 die of it”:
“We’ve had an epidemic of colorectal cancer for decades,” says the group’s president, Dr. Neal Barnard. “Only fairly recently has it become clear that a big part of the reason is the American appetite for hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and other processed meats.”
Of course, the meat industry disagrees. “This is an absurd claim,” says Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council. “Trying to link a food product that has clear nutritional value with a product like cigarettes, which have no redeeming qualities, is inflammatory and alarmist.”
Clear, nutritional value? Seriously? Does anyone really believe a hot dog has nutritional value?
I doubt that most moms will give their child a hot dog or processed meat daily (except maybe for The View‘s Elizabeth Hasselbeck who said her son loves them so she does give him one each day). Yet including hot dogs as a regular but not daily diet staple also has its own negative effects.
While I don’t think a hot dog every once in a while in itself is deadly, I do think that eating them regularly is not the best idea. Who knows what really goes into them? The more I learn about the food industry, the quicker I lose my faith in its ability to choose health over money in any circumstance.
How many hot dogs a year does your child eat? Do you keep them in the house or only purchase them at sporting events? What about barbecues? Or has your child never, ever tasted a hot dog?
Image: Cancer Project
Author Michael Pollan talks to Babble about how to eat well in today’s world