Hot Dogs and Childhood Cancer
By Dr. Nicole Sundene
I came across this story about hot dogs at the Chicago Tribune and thought, “Oh dear! What is this world coming to? Hot dogs still? REALLY?”
“A whole recipe contest for the ‘wonderous wienie’?”
Hot dogs are not a healthy friend of the kitchen table.
A while back I stopped by the grocery store and was asked to buy a hot dog to support breast cancer.
Always the first to write a check for some Girl Scout cookies, I was forced to unfortunately say “no thank you” to the hot dog fund raiser. What I did do though, was immediately call my sister, a fellow health food freak to discuss the deep dark irony of hosting a hot dog fund raiser for cancer. (My sister and I are pretty much the female version of the finicky, persnickety duo Fraiser and Niles Crane on a Whole Foods Diet).
She suggested that I sell cigarettes to raise funds for lung cancer research.
We had a good laugh over the silly satire of the situation, and thought up a bunch of other ridiculous fund raisers. I couldn’t help but hang up and still feel gloomy and defeated that our American Sickcare System is so tangled up in hype, blinders, and microscopic thinking.
Sometimes we easily lose track of the big picture with health, disease, diet, and lifestyle choices. No, hot dogs have not been shown to cause breast cancer at this prudent juncture, however, they ARE implicated in increasing the risk of childhood cancers.
The nitrites used to preserve hot dogs and other lunch meats form nitrosamines either in the cooking process or in our gut. Nitrosamines are known carcinogens implicated in cancers of the bladder, mouth, esophagus, stomach, and brain.
If hot dogs are associated with cancer even slightly, then why bother eating them I say?
If they are implicated in child hood cancers, and thought to increase your child’s risk of developing cancer NINE-FOLD when an average of 3 hot dogs per week are consumed, then WHY by all means are they even allowed to be served in school cafeterias, daycares, and hospitals? If one hot dog a week increases your child’s risk of developing brain cancer, why would any parent want to feed their child such a food?
Unfortunately most parents that I talk to are clueless to the hot dog conundrum.
Look at this innocent little guy eating watermelon in the above picture. Kids are just as happy with healthy foods, and it is our job to make educated decisions around feeding them. They don’t know any better.
Today’s Healthy Kitchen Tasks: Get hot dogs with nitrites out of your life. Ask the professionals preparing your children’s meals why hot dogs are being served to them if they are thought to increase the risk of childhood leukemias and brain tumors. Show them this article.
The bottom line is that institutions don’t want to pay for quality food. School cafeterias, prisons, hospitals, and other government run facilities have to work on a budget, and the budget they are expected to keep scarily determines MUCH of our “nutritional requirements”. The dietary RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is set especially low so these government run programs can meet the bare minimums.
Something to think about the next time you send your child off to school to purchase a hot dog and some tater tots.
Hot dogs should not be the bare minimum.
Let’s stop and evaluate the big picture.
The more clean and moderately we live, the more disease we can prevent. Avoiding the consumption of hot dogs is crucial to clean healthy living. If our efforts prevent cancer in one child, then they are well worth it. Maybe your child won’t be affected, but it sure will matter a great deal to the parents of the one that is.
If you HAVE to have a hot dog, save it for a sporting event or carnival. Even Disneyland is moving towards healthier choices, and so should we. “When in Rome” is a good rule of thumb for hot dogs.
Needless to say, hot dogs should not be daily or even weekly guests at our kitchen tables. Look for healthier protein options that are NOT prepared with potential carcinogens such as sodium nitrites. Anything on the label that says “nitrite” or “nitrate” after it, means potentially carcinogenic. Cured fish, and bacon also contain nitrites. Purchase bratwursts and higher quality intestinal meats from whole foods markets. They won’t have as long of a shelf life, so keep them in the freezer.
Keep in mind that these low quality protein sources actually are extremely high in saturated fat which is not good for any inflammatory health condition (almost all disease is caused by inflammation), nor is consuming saturated fats in hot dogs good for PREVENTING disease such as the clogged arteries that cause heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure.
Best case scenario, though, let’s just remove the hot dog’s seat at the kitchen table. Who needs a nasty old hot dog sitting around at dinner time anyways?
For more information about today’s tirade, you can read an important question and answer series about hot dogs and cancer at PreventCancer.com.
If you have any ideas for any other “great” fund raisers. Feel free to leave them in the comments section.