Hot dogs could easily replace a meal back in time. All you had to do is pop a few of these in the microwave, and your lunch was ready. We bet you loved adding hot dog cut up in Mac & Cheese. Yes, we all remember the good times.
And the picnics? Hot dogs were the star of every picnic. We remember grilling tons of these on the 4th of July. Americans eat tons of hot dogs on this day, and the number goes up to 155 million wieners. Americans snack hot dogs every day, but statistics shows that they eat 7 billion of these guys between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Wow!
In what way could this be bad for you?
Here is what an L.A. Times article has to say about this:
Children who eat more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia, a USC epidemiologist has reported in a cancer research journal. Two other reports in the same issue of Cancer Causes and Control suggest that children born to mothers who eat at least one hot dog per week during pregnancy have double the normal risk of developing brain tumors, as do children whose fathers ate hot dogs before conception.
Nitrites form carcinogens
In the past year, scientists conducted three different studies based on the relation between hot dogs and childhood cancer.
They examined the connection between certain foods and the risk of developing leukemia in children younger than 10. They covered the area of Los Angeles in the period between 1980 and 987. This study found that children who ate more than 12 hot dogs per month are ten times more likely to develop childhood leukemia. This risk was also increased in children whose fathers who ate more than 12 hot dogs per month.
Sarusuaand Savitz did a study involving childhood cancers in the area of Denver. They found that children whose mothers ate hot dogs during their pregnancy had two times higher risk of developing brain tumor. Children who ate hot dogs were also at a higher risk of this type of cancer.
Mothers who eat hot dogs during their pregnancy expose their infants to an increased risk of brain tumors.
Hot dogs cause cancer
Nitrites in hot dogs act as preservatives. When exposed to high heat, nitrites bind to amines that are naturally found in meat, and form N-nitroso compounds, known as dangerous carcinogens. Nitrites also bind to amines in the stomach, and form these compounds. N-nitroso compounds can cause oral, urinary bladder, esophageal, stomach and brain tumors.
Vegetables contain nitrites, but…
Well, green veggies like spinach, celery and green lettuce contain nitrites. But, vegetables actually reduce the risk of developing cancer. How can this be? It has something to do with the formation of N-nitroso compounds.
Nitrite-packed veggies also contain vitamins C and D. These vitamins prevent the formation of carcinogens, which means that veggies are both safe and healthy.
Which other foods contain nitrites?
Cured meats contain large amounts of nitrites. This applies to bacon and fish, too.
Not all hot dogs cause childhood cancer
Thanks to modern technology and refrigeration methods, producers add nitrites only to boost the red color of the hot dogs. Nitrite-free hot dogs have the same taste as nitrite-rich hot dogs, but it is their brown color that makes them so unpopular. And yes, heat does not reduce the quality of these hot dogs, and they are safe for consumption.
Here is what you should do:
- Avoid products that contain nitrites. Child and potential parents should not eat more than 12 hot dogs.
- Buy your food in supermarkets that offer nitrite-free hot dogs.
- Ask the school board to provide nitrite-free hot dogs in the cafeteria.
- Write a letter to the FDA, and require that they force producers to label nitrite-hot dogs as potential causers of childhood cancer.