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Healthy Minds and Body Awareness Series: Are Hot Dogs Healthy?

Spotlight on hot dogs; how they are made, their popularity and their effects on the health of our community.

Celebrating what may be killing millions of people each year.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Did you know? "A class-action consumer-fraud lawsuit was filed on July 22 (2009) against various manufacturers of hot dogs for failing to warn consumers that consumption of hot dogs increases cancer risk. The lawsuit cites evidence from our expert report showing that processed meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of colon cancer." -

This is the first in a series of articles focusing on the topic of healthy minds and body awareness. The series is relevant and important to the community because it is crucial to be informed in order to make healthier choices as consumers.

The community, and the public in general, need to be aware of the risk of certain foods and consumer goods that are marketed as safe. The potential harm on the public's overall health is usually well documented by respected sources yet generally not publicized by mainstream media.

"A hot dog is a cooked sausage, traditionally grilled or steamed and served in a sliced bun as a sandwich.[2][3][4][5] Hot dog variants include the corn dog dipped in corn batter and deep fried, pigs in blankets wrapped in dough, baked, and served as hors d'oeuvres, and Beanie Weenies chopped and mixed with baked beans. Typical hot dog garnishes include mustard, ketchup, onions, mayonnaise, relish, cheese, chili, and sauerkraut." -

Hot dogs; almost everyone loves a nice, hot, plump, juicy hot dog. To many nothing can beat a fresh off the grill hot dog with their favorite condiments. Well, after reading this information, and watching the featured video showing the process of making a hot dog, you may never want another hot dog gracing your hot dog bun. Click here for and CBS news story on the popularity of hot dogs.

Unfortunately, if this is one of your household family staples you may want to weigh the benefits of your enjoying this processed food with the overall potential destruction it does to your health.

"..every 50 gram serving of processed meat (roughly equivalent to 1 hot dog) eaten per day increases colorectal cancer risk by 21 percent. (Note: this means that people who eat a hot dog every day have a 21 percent higher risk of colorectal cancer than if they never eat hot dogs.)

A 21 percent higher risk is significant and cause for concern; that is why our recommendation is to avoid processed meat.
But, to put that increased risk in context: A regular smoker has a risk of lung cancer that is between 10 and 20 times that of a nonsmoker. In contrast, a person who eats one hot dog every day has a 21 percent higher risk of colorectal cancer – not even two times the risk of someone who never eats hot dogs." - read lots more at

"... “A hot dog a day could send you to an early grave,” says PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. “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.”

Every year, about 143,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and approximately 53,000 die of it." read more at

"Researchers at Kansas State University, with funding in part from the American Meat Institute and the National Pork Board Check-off, tested the heterocyclic amine (HCA) levels of a variety of popular ready-to-eat meat products: hot dogs, deli meats, bacon, pepperoni and rotisserie chicken. HCAs are chemicals that are formed in meats when they are cooked at very high temperatures. Studies show that these chemicals can damage DNA and cause cancer in animals. It's not clear how much they may contribute to cancer risk in people. Even so, the American Cancer Society recommends cooking meats with methods that create fewer HCAs, such as baking or poaching."-!-headlines-can-be-deceiving.aspx

One of the dangers of process meats lie in the fact that, "Nitrites and nitrates are added to (processed) meats to preserve color and prevent spoilage. Unfortunately, these compounds can be converted to nitrosamines, which are also known causes of cancer in animals (though again, the link in people is unclear). Hot dogs, bacon and the like may also be preserved by methods involving smoke or salt, which also increases the exposure to potentially carcinogenic chemicals." -!-headlines-can-be-deceiving.aspx

Another warning that the public should be aware of is that even though hot dogs are precooked it is recommended that they be reheated to prevent listeriosis.

"Although hot dogs are fully cooked, those at increased risk of foodborne illness should reheat hot dogs and luncheon meat until steaming hot before eating, due to the threat of listeriosis.

Listeria monocytogenes, the bacteria that cause listeriosis, can be found in the intestinal tracts of humans and animals, and in milk, soil, and leaf vegetables. The bacteria can grow slowly at refrigerator temperatures. Listeria monocytogenes can be in ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, fermented or dry sausage, and other deli-style meat and poultry, soft cheeses and unpasteurized milk. Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, chills, headache, backache, an upset stomach, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Persons who have ingested the bacteria may take up to 3 weeks to become ill. At-risk persons (pregnant women and newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems) may later develop more serious illnesses. Listeriamonocytogenes can also cause miscarriages." - read lots more at

There are many more informational sources on the dangers of hot dogs if you choose to do your own research, and of course there are other sides to the hot dog story. A defense of the the hot dogs healthy safety can be found in the posted excerpt and link below;

" "Alleged Hot Dog and Cancer Connection: The truth about vegan group's cancer claims"

The Cancer Project, a vegan, animal rights group, has created a campaign claiming that hot dogs cause cancer. Not only does the Cancer Project campaign cite controversial science, the group uses scare tactics meant to alarm and mislead consumers about processed meats such as hot dogs.

The truth is the Cancer Project is backed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a group that is made up of only a small portion of actual physicians. The group has ties to animal rights organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Their tactics, such as frightening consumers with outrageous cancer claims, have been criticized by reputable science and health organizations." - read lots more at

For additional information on this subject please click-on the featured video link and the hyperlinks/highlighted words contained within the article.

This article is meant to be informative only and as a consumer it is ultimately your choice to what you choose to feed yourself and your family. As a cancer survivor who battled cancer for a year, I try to be very aware of what foods I put into my body. As a lifelong non-smoker, and a very light consumer of alcohol, I have no idea why I was stricken with throat cancer; I do know that I loved eating hot dogs on a pretty regular bases.

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