The Fourth of July is the biggest hot dog holiday of the year, with the Americans downing an estimated 155 million wieners.
So, what’s the big deal?Well, I assertively say: The Americans needed “A New Deal” on hot dogs yesterday!National Cancer Institute statistics reads: “About 1,500 children die of cancer every year in the US. Processed meat is one of the root causes of the increasing rate of childhood cancers.”
All of us loved hot dogs at their tender age! It was a great easy snack that we could just pop into the microwave after school classes. And of course there were great picnics (like those on the 4th of July) when dad would fire up the grill. Although the Americans eat hot dogs all year round, we eat an estimated seven billion between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
An L.A. Times article also states: “Children who eat more than 12 hot dogs PER MONTH have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia, a USC epidemiologist has reported in a cancer research journal.
Two other reports in the same issue of Cancer Causes and Control suggest that children born to mothers who eat at least one hot dog a week during pregnancy have double the normal risk of developing brain tumors, as do children whose fathers ate hot dogs before conception.”
What went wrong with the good old hot dogs?
The wrong thing about hot dogs is the nitrite additives, used as preservatives, which form carcinogens in human body.Scientific evidence for the extremely harmful nitrites seems to mount year in, year out!
Here I give you a few (out of the many) studies.
In the past year alone three different studies finding that the consumption of hot dogs can be a great risk factor for childhood cancer have come out.
1. Peters et al. studied the relationship between the intake of certain foods and the risk of leukemia in children from birth to age 10 in Los Angeles County between 1980 and 1987. The study found that children eating more than 12 hot dogs a month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia. A strong risk for childhood leukemia also existed for those children whose fathers’ intake of hot dogs was 12 or more per month.
2. The study conducted by the researchers Sarusua and Savitz of the cancer cases in Denver found that children born to mothers who consumed hot dogs one or more times per week during pregnancy has approximately double the risk of developing brain tumors. Children who ate hot dogs one or more times per week were also at higher risk of brain cancer.
3. Bunin et al, also found that maternal consumption of hot dogs during pregnancy was associated with an excess risk of childhood brain tumors.
Nitrites, which are used as preservatives primarily to combat botulism, evidently cause cancer. During the cooking process, nitrites combine with amines naturally present in meat to form carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds.
It is also suspected that nitrites can combine with amines in the human stomach to form N-nitroso compounds. These compounds are known carcinogens and have been associated with cancer of the oral cavity, urinary bladder, esophagus, stomach and brain.
Question: Some vegetables contain nitrites, do they cause cancer too?
Answer: It is true that nitrites are commonly found in many green vegetables, especially spinach, celery and green lettuce. However, the consumption of vegetables appears to be effective in reducing the risk of cancer.
Question: How is this possible?
Answer: The explanation lies in the formation of N-nitroso compounds from nitrites and amines.
Nitrite containing vegetables also have Vitamin C and D, which serve to inhibit the formation of N-nitroso compounds. Consequently, vegetables are quite safe and healthy, and aim to reduce your cancer risk.
As a matter of fact, all cured meats contain nitrites. These include bacon and fish. Yet, not all hot dogs on the market contain nitrites. Due to modern refrigeration methods, nitrites are now used more for the red color they produce in meat (which is associated with freshness) than for preservation. Nitrite-free hot dogs, while they taste the same as nitrite hot dogs, have a brownish color that has limited their popularity with consumers.
Are you concerned enough by now? You should be!
However, there are 4 things YOU can do to protect your children:
- Do not buy hot dogs containing nitrite. It is especially important that children and potential parents do not consume 12 or more of these hot dogs per month.
- Request that your supermarket have nitrite-free hot dogs available.
- Contact your local school board and find out whether children are being served nitrite hot dogs in the cafeteria. Request that they use only nitrite-free hot dogs.
- Write the FDA and express your concern that nitrite-hot dogs are not labeled for their cancer risk to children.
1 Peters J, et al “Processed meats and risk of childhood leukemia (California, USA)” Cancer Causes & Control 5: 195-202, 1994.
2 Sarasua S, Savitz D. ” Cured and broiled meat consumption in relation to childhood cancer: Denver, Colorado (United States),” Cancer Causes & Control 5:141-8, 1994.
3 Bunin GR, et al. “Maternal diet and risk of astrocytic glioma in children: a report from the children’s cancer group (United States and Canada),” Cancer Causes & Control 5:177-87, 1994.