As American as baseball, hot dogs and … cancer

August 3, 2009

hotdog1A non-profit organization is linking cancer to hot dogs outside one of the most iconic U.S. sports parks.

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. 

wrigley1What 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)


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Hot dogs are pretty disgusting, once you know what they’re made from. And since I have a family history of colon cancer, I’m steering clear of them from now on. I didn’t have any idea that processed meats increased the risk of cancer, so I think warning labels are a good idea.

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

What a joke. This is just a PETA front group. Check out this website: — 2 minutes with Google could have helped the writer avoid shilling for a bunch of deceptive nuts.

Posted by Frances | Report as abusive

I think nowadays everything you eat is bad for you. I also think iff you aren’t a compulsive user there is nothing to worry about.

Posted by kevin | Report as abusive

Wow , we will died ! The water bad for you ,vegetables bad for you , meat bad for you ,and sex bad for you ! What not bad for you !

Posted by donny | Report as abusive

you tell me

Posted by oye | Report as abusive

Is there anything left that we can eat without getting killed!

Posted by 12 Weeks Pregnant | Report as abusive

Definitely sounds like PETA working behind the scenes! Where are the facts? Can anyone show me the proof that processed meats cause cancer? No you can’r because there isn’t any! PETA has been trying to shut down the livestock farms for years, and this is just another attempt on their part to do so.

Posted by Christian | Report as abusive

If people are addicted to something like hotdogs then it will be a hard sell to convince them to stop, believe me. Look at smoking!

Posted by Dahir | Report as abusive

Hot-dogs contain Nitrites or Nitrates which have been linked to cancer. 2 minutes with Google would have found that for you.

Posted by shawn | Report as abusive

The funny thing is – they left out the cancer causing ingredient – which is not meat, its the preservative… So if the ballpark moves to use “processed meat dogs” without that, then they become cancer free. I would bet – the PETA would rise out a yellin, meat has been a part of the human diet for a very very very long time. Its the additives, gasp – which are added to some of the processed veggies including those nifty veggie dogs (to add taste and preserve) – that are the culprits. You CAN get cancer from a vegetarian diet – given you leave the door wide open to all the options, like they are with the hotdogs!

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

I stopped eating foods with sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate in the 1980’s when I learned that they are carcinogenic. (My family has a history of colon cancer.) My daughters are in college and they still choose to eat only nitrite and nitrate free deli meats. These preservatives are in bacon, ham, pepperoni, sausage, sliced turkey, bologna, and… hot dogs. It isn’t necessary to ban these foods from your diet. Nitrite and nitrate free deli meats are available, but due to their shorter shelf life (no preservatives) they are usually about double the price. Ask the person at the deli counter to let you look at the ingredient list of the deli meat you are hungry for; it’s usually the last one listed.

Posted by conscientious consumer | Report as abusive

The statistics do not lie, and the author has not skewed the conclusion: human carnivors suffer a greater incidence of colorectal cancer than do vegetarians, period.

Posted by Dr. Robert Book | Report as abusive

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a vegan, animal rights group that uses controversial science and scare tactics meant to alarm and mislead consumers about processed meats.

FACT: The American Dietetic Association says hot dogs can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 5.5 ounces of meat per day.

FACT: Nearly 93 percent of human nitrite comes from leafy vegetables & tubers and our own saliva. The National Toxicology Program has assured the safety of sodium nitrite in the levels used. The National Institutes of Health and the Univ. of Texas have not only confirmed nitrite’s safety, but its health benefits.

FACT: There are dozens of studies showing no relation between eating processed meat and colon cancer.

FACT: The organization cited as the basis for this “science,” the American Institute for Cancer Research, does “not take a position on the need for warning labels on hot dogs.”

Just as consumers need to eat a healthy, balanced diet, they need balanced information.

Thomas Super
American Meat Institute

Posted by Thomas Super | Report as abusive

Perspective: About 2.5 million Americans die every year. If 50,000 die from colorectal cancer, then that’s about 2% of the total. The article states that eating about a hot dog EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR increases your chance of contracting this cancer by 21%. So if EVERYONE ate a hot dog EVERY DAY, then maybe the deaths from colorectal cancer would reach a shocking 60,500, or 2.42% of the US total. But that would require 109 TRILLION hot dogs to be consumed every year. Too bad that only 21 million hot dogs will be sold at US ballparks this year. That’s only 1/5214 of 109 trillion. So the real increase in deaths from hot dogs currently consumed would be … 10,500/5214 = 2. TWO PEOPLE MIGHT DIE FROM THESE HOT DOGS. So what are we griping about?

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

So I checked out the National Cancer institute. Turns out the correct info is:

“A new analysis of participants in a large European cohort study shows a significant association between a type of gastric (stomach) cancer and meat consumption, but primarily in men and women infected with the bacteria H. pylori.”

from ntion-genetics-causes/causes/meatconsump tion

H. pylori is responsible for a number of stomach problems. It’s not surprising that it’s related to cancer.

I’m rather disappointed with the authors failure to fact check some of this information. Isn’t that the point of journalism?

Posted by hclax | Report as abusive

From American Institute for Cancer Research Web site: “…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.”

Seems to me the “Cancer Project” sent Mr. Klayman a press release and he simply quoted it as fact.

Posted by Baker | Report as abusive

You know there are no dumpsters at the back of a hot dog factory. Hot dogs are made from lips, tips, ears and asses. Still this is what passes for “science” these days. Oh well good luck vegans, the rest of us normal folks enjoy meat, get over it. No matter how much you try to scare us with pseudo science, people with brains, not drones like you will find the truth. Fear and ignorance may be your watchwords, but you will continue to fail, outside the typical freaks. Honestly, ask yourself do you know any normal, healthy, well adjusted vegans? I thought not.

Posted by Frank Castle | Report as abusive

Sounds like spurious science to me… and how many people eat hot dogs every single day? Probably not many.

As well… correlation does not imply causation. There may be a link between processed meats and colon cancer but it doesn’t prove one causes the other.

Posted by Brian Hildebrandt | Report as abusive

Below is the American Institute for Cancer Research web site statement. They advise avoiding processed meat: name=dc_recs_05_avoid_processed_meats

Posted by Hot Doggy | Report as abusive

Thomas Super-

American Dietetic Association says that Vegetarian and Vegan diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.  /hs.xsl/advocacy_933_ENU_HTML.htm

And what Thomas Super does NOT tell you is that the American Dietetic Association always mentions veggie Dogs as a low-fat and fat-free option when they talk about hot dogs.

Posted by dan | Report as abusive

Thanks for sharing…
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Posted by susana | Report as abusive

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