According to the National Sausage and Hot Dog Council (NHDSC) Americans are expected to eat 150 million hot dogs over the July 4th holiday alone, part of the 7 billion hot dogs eaten over the summer season from Memorial Day to Labor Day. But Beware!
The Cancer Project’s latest billboard shows a pack of hot dogs coming out of a pack of cigarettes. The Cancer Project is trying to get the word out about the dangers of processed meats, especially hot dogs. Eating a hot dog every day can increase your risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent. It’s as bad for you as smoking.
An NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study found that processed red meat was associated with a 10 percent increased risk of prostate cancer with every 10 grams of increased intake. A study in Taiwan showed that consumption of cured and smoked meat can increase children’s risk for leukemia. A study in Australia found that women’s risk for ovarian cancer increased as a result of eating processed meats.
Hot Dogs contain Nitrates. These nitrates are compounds added to hot dogs and other cured meats to extend their shelf life and improve their color (without the nitrates, the hot dogs would turn brown or gray – ewww). Once Digested, Nitrates can form nitrosamines, which have been linked to cancer in test animals. To reduce this risk, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires hot-dog makers to add antioxidants, like vitamin C, to their products.
But what about the nitrates that naturally occur in vegetables like spinach and celery? That is absolutely true, but the difference is that these veggies also contain vitamins C and D, which inhibit the formation of those N-nitroso compounds.
Ok so if you have to have a hotdog this 4th of July try pairing the hot dogs with an antioxidant-rich food, like tomatoes, or vitamin C–packed orange juice. Or you can try some nitrate-free hot dogs, like the ones from Applegate Farms or Organic Prairie. These hot dogs do contain nitrates from vegetables, but do not contain traditionally used synthetic nitrates.