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DCL

The Cancer Project's latest billboard shows a pack of hot dogs coming out of a pack of cigarettes. At first I thought this was somewhat dramatic but the fact of the matter is that it's a fair comparison. The Cancer Project is trying to get the word out about the dangers of processed meats, especially hot dogs. The dangers are real and significant. Eating a hot dog every day can increase your risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent. It's as bad for you as smoking.

"A hot dog a day could send you to an early grave," says PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. "Processed meats like hot dogs can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and various types of cancer."

According to The Cancer Project:

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.

If you think that buying organic hot dogs alleviate the problem then you may be sorely disappointed. It's the nitrites and nitrates in processed meats such as hot dogs that are linked with all sorts of cancers. Nitrates and nitrites are used in the processing of meat to provide the color and taste we've all grown accustomed to in our dogs. They're also used to kill bacteria and prevent botulism. Conventional hot dogs use sodium nitrite, the synthetic version of the additive, while natural and organic versions use celery powder or celery juice to preserve their product. But in fact both have healthy doses of nitrate, according to The New York Times.

The New York Times reports:

A study published earlier this year in The Journal of Food Protection found that natural hot dogs had anywhere from one-half to 10 times the amount of nitrite that conventional hot dogs contained. Natural bacon had from about a third as much nitrite as a conventional brand to more than twice as much.

How often do you indulge in a hot dog? Is this enough to cut them out of your routine?

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