Hot dogs are as dangerous as cigarettes, says doctor's group

Roz Zurko's picture

First cigarettes, then second-hand smoke and now hotdogs are said to be dangerous, just as dangerous as cigarettes and the same goes for all processed meats, says a doctor's group who is embarking on a new campaign to educate the public.

"Warning: Hot Dogs Can Wreck Your Health" is the new warning on a billboard near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which sold 1.1 million hotdogs last year. The graphics on this billboard have four grilled hotdogs in a pink cigarette pack depicting crossed bones and a skull in place of a brand label. This display says it all, and it could be scary to the average hotdog lover.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has started the "Cancer Project," and warning folks of the dangers of hotdogs as their latest project. This non-profit group wants to prevent and treat disease by encouraging people to eat an "all plant diet." As you can imagine, the hotdog manufacturers around the country are not too happy with having their products compared to the lethal level of poison to your body that cigarettes fall under.

It is processed meats that this group is really attacking and they want the public to know the dangers of eating this substance, so comparing hotdogs to cigarettes seems to do the visual trick. The meat industry thinks it is nothing but a pseudo-animal rights group "who want to create a vegan society," according to the statement released by the AMI. Registered dietician, Susan Levin, who is also the director of nutrition for the doctor's group that started the dangers of hotdogs campaign, believes that warning labels should come on all processed meats, like the kind of warnings that come on cigarette packs.

The public needs to be warned of the health risk dangers these processed meats possess, is Levin's stand. They are also trying to educate the public on the difference of regular meat and the kind that is processed. The words "processed meats" means smoking, curing or salting the meat, which entails using chemicals.

According to a report in Time Magazine, people who eat 3.5 ounces of processed meat a day have a 36 percent greater chance of suffering from colon cancer. This doctor's group also uses a 2010 study from the National Institutes of Health and AARP as more evidence that this warning is warranted. This study suggests that eating processed meat raises the chance of developing prostate cancer.

The World Cancer Research Fund recommends staying away from processed meat all together, but some studies suggest that eating it in moderation is safe.

The American Meat Institute disagrees with these claims. Their news release states: “Hot dogs are part of a healthy, balanced diet,” according to AMI President J. Patrick Boyle. “They come in a variety of nutrition and taste formulas and they are an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals. He goes on to say that “this group’s claims are on a collision course with the facts.”

The AMI cites a 2004 Harvard School of Public Health analysis, which found no connection between red and processed meat and colorectal cancer. The abstract gives the conclusion of this study as: “These prospective data do not support a positive association between higher red meat and fat intake and colorectal cancer risk.” This statement was issued after a large subject and study analysis, as Dr. Stephanie Smith-Warner, lead author of this analysis, reports the information was gathered from a total of about 755,000 subjects who were in 14 different studies.

Harvard, the same school that published Smith-Warner's analysis, did a study in 2010 that showed heath risks do exists from eating processed meat. According to the Washington Post, "each 50 gram daily serving gives a person a 43 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes."

Hot dogs were used as the poster meats because it is the processed food that is associated with this time of year and it is National Hot Dog Month. While these groups butt heads about the safety of processed meats, namely hot dogs, most doctors suggest eating most foods in moderation. Even too much of a good food could turn bad for you if you go overboard with consuming it.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Submitted by PeteGatti (not verified) on
Oh for crying out loud. We need to stop grant money going to these looney studies before they kill every last industry in this country. I'm getting too old to put up with this nanny crap. When I want a damn hot dog I'll eat a damn hot dog or whatever else I please. I don't frighten easily, hot dogs in a cigarette pack only make me want to do both.

Submitted by AlecWest (not verified) on
--- Greg Bean, former editor of (a Canadian media outlet), did an editorial on this. And his take on the issue is probably pretty close to the truth. There's a "method" in the madness of these scare campaigns. The best way to "socially engineer" any society is to get the government behind the engineers. Right now, the cost of taxes on a pack of cigarettes is, in some cases, greater than the cost of the cigarettes without the tax. I'm 60 years old and was witness to this metamorphosis - from a time when smoking was tolerated to a time when smokers are treated like lepers (by the public) and cash cows (by taxing authorities). And right now, state and municipal governments are very cash-strapped and looking for new sources of revenue (a tax on soft drinks, a tax on fast food, etc., etc.). Ten years from now, I predict this "sin tax" will be extended beyond cigarettes into mainstream processed foods ... perhaps to a point, like cigarettes, where the cost of the food itself is LESS than the tax on it. Hang onto your wallets (shudder).

Submitted by AlecWest (not verified) on
This hot-dog scare reminds me of a joke. A woman visits a restaurant. The waiter asks if she'd like the veal special. "Heavens, no - not with mad-cow disease out there," she replies. "I completely understand," the waiter says. "Then what will it be - the pesticide-covered vegan dish, the mercury-laden seafood dish, or the growth-hormone enhanced poultry dish?" At the age of 60, it's probably a bit too late for me to turn back the biological clock. So, I think I'll just go out and buy a pack of Hebrew-National or Nathan's hot dogs, grill them, and wash them down with a Coke (or two) ... all the while chanting, "Woe is me, woe is me."

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