The US Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine shocked several American cities in the spring, putting up huge public service ad billboards featuring a man in a hospital gown holding a hotdog in his hand and looking at his behind.
“Hot Dogs Cause Butt Cancer” the billboard reads. It’s a simplified way to say that processed meats increase colorectal cancer risk.
“Colon cancer attacks 140,000 Americans every year, killing about 50,000, and processed meats are a clear-cut contributor,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., PCRM nutrition education director. “Many Americans have no idea that eating hot dogs and bacon raises their risk of this deadly disease.”
“It is a bit surprising that we have to simplify the message to this extent,” Levin says. “Hopefully the information will get through.”
The warnings are dismissed as irrelevant by the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, who proudly reports that Americans typically consume 7 billion hot dogs every summer. Calling the ad “outrageous” and “inflammatory,” the Council called PCRM a “pseudo-medical animal rights group” bent on turning all Americans into vegans.
“Hot dogs are part of a healthy, balanced diet. They come in a variety of nutrition and taste formulas and they are an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals,” council president Janet M. Riley said in a statement.” To support this point, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council refers to studies that disprove the relation between the meat products and cancer.
Numerous studies have been done on how eating meat affects health. The scientists of Harvard School of Public Health give detailed evidence that a daily serving of meat can increase risk of heart disease or cancer. Having observed almost 84,000 women and 38,000 men for 28 years, they have noted that those eating a daily serving of red meat were 13 per cent more likely to die in the study period, and approximately 14 per cent more likely to develop heart disease or cancer. These numbers go up to 20 per cent more deaths and 18 per cent more heart problems and cancer for those who reported eating a daily serving of processed meats including hot dogs, salami and bacon.
Studies also show a strong link between other types of cancer and processed meats. An NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, for example, found that processed red meat was associated with a 10 percent increased risk of prostate cancer with every 10 grams of increased intake.
It might be time to think about saving your butt.