Hot dog grill with mustard isolated on white background.
Hot dogs, baseball, and apple pie.  What could be more American than that?  But if you tend to enjoy a hotdog (or two) while watching your favorite team, you may want to think twice next time you’re in line at the concession stand.  Some experts say you might as well light up a smoke. Yup, it’s true. Hot dogs are just as bad as cigarettes when it comes to your health.

Hot dogs can wreck your health.

That was the message on a billboard located near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the purpose of the billboard was to warn sports fans that munching on hot dogs could have serious adverse health consequences.

The American Institute for Cancer Research tells us a 50 gram serving of processed meat – the amount found in one hot dog – eaten daily ups the risk of colorectal cancer by 21% on average. Approximately 143,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year and about 53,000 die from the disease.

Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., nutrition education director of PCRM, says, “A hot dog a day could send you to an early grave. Processed meats like hot dogs can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and various types of cancer. Like cigarettes, hot dogs should come with a warning label that helps racing fans and other consumers understand the health risk.”

There is evidence of a strong connection between processed meats and other cancers as well.  One study found that for every 10 grams of increased intake of processed meat there was a 10% increased risk of prostate cancer.  Another study revealed that eating smoked or cured meat can also increase the risk of leukemia in children. In addition, women’s risk for ovarian cancer also increases when a diet consisting of processed meats is involved and the risk for diabetes goes up by 41% for all persons.

The controversy.

The group sponsoring the “dangers of hot dogs message” is closely affiliated with veganism and alternative medicine, which some feel casts a little doubt on the “real science” behind the warning.  It’s hard to argue with the data, however.

In one prior study, the World Cancer Research Fund bluntly stated that all processed meats are simply too dangerous for humans to eat.  That includes hot dogs, bacon, sausage, sandwich meat, pepperoni, salami and pretty much all red meat used in frozen packaged meals. The chief reason is because they are manufactured with the ingredient sodium nitrite, a known carcinogen.  The chemical is what makes red meat look bright red and fresh. But the problem is that sodium nitrite turns into nitrosamines (cancer-causing agents) in humans.

So should you ban all processed meats from your diet forever?  Some say yes.

When it comes down to it, the message you shouldn’t eat a hot dog every day really isn’t all that controversial, is it?

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