The Reuters global sports blog
As American as baseball, hot dogs and … cancer
The Cancer Project is reminding fans of the Chicago Cubs baseball team of the connection between consumption of hot dogs and the occurrence of colorectal cancer with a billboard outside Chicago’s storied Wrigley Field.
The 48-foot-wide billboard (pictured above) — featuring an image of hot dogs jammed into a cigarette pack labeled “Unlucky Strike” — is scheduled to debut on Monday at the intersection of W. Addison and N. Halsted, just east of Wrigley Field.
The organization is not asking the Cubs to ban hot dogs at Wrigley. (They don’t want a fan insurrection after all). The group even lauds the Cubs for offering such vegetarian options as veggie burgers and hummus at Wrigley.
What the Cancer Project asked in a letter to Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney dated Aug. 3, however, is for the team to place “dietary disaster” warning labels near where hot dogs are sold at the ballpark since processed meats have been linked to colorectal cancer.
“Baseball stadiums need to be frank about the cancer risk posed by hot dogs and other processed meats,” Krista Haynes, a Cancer Project dietitian, said in a statement.
“Just as tobacco causes lung cancer, processed meats are linked to colon cancer,” she added. “Like cigarettes, hot dogs should come with a warning label that helps baseball fans and other consumers understand the health risk.”
Kenney and a Cubs spokesman could no immediately be reached for comment.
The billboard is part of Cancer Project’s national campaign, launched in July with a similar billboard outside the home park of Cubs rival, the St. Louis Cardinals.
There are no further plans at this point to expand the campaign, a Cancer Project spokeswoman said.
More than 21 million hot dogs are expected to be sold this season at U.S. major league ballparks, the Cancer Project said, citing a survey by the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.
In March, the National Cancer Institute published a study of more than half a million people showing red and processed meat intake is associated with a higher risk of dying from cancer and cardiovascular disease, according to the Cancer Project.
In 2007, the American Institute for Cancer Research published a report showing that just one 50-gram serving of processed meat (about the amount in one hot dog) consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer, on average, by 21 percent, the Cancer Project said. Every year, about 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 50,000 die of it, the Cancer Project said.
The Cancer Project is affiliated with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which advocates a vegetarian diet as a way to better health, based on research and not animal rights beliefs.
(Billboard image provided by Cancer Project; Reuters photo of Wrigley)