If someone asked you what you think of as the most American food out there, many people would immediately respond with “hot dogs.” Hot dogs are consumed frequently across the United States, and even internationally, especially during the summer and patriotic holidays. They are inexpensive, generally taste good, and are quick to prepare. They are simple and kid friendly but can be dressed up to be pleasing to an adult crowd as well. Their versatility makes them a very popular food item.
Why Hot Dogs Are Bad For You
If hot dogs are so amazing and popular, then why are scientists saying to stop giving hot dogs to children? Scientists are claiming that due to the nitrates in many hot dog brands, children who frequently consume them are having nine times greater chance of developing childhood leukemia. (1)
Sodium nitrates are synthetic preservatives added to hot dogs to prevent botulism and to maintain the fresh pink color consumers expect. During the cooking process, nitrates mix with amines formed when muscle meat is cooked at high temperatures to form carcinogens, substances that can promote the formation of cancer cells. Nitrates have been associated with cancer of the oral cavity, urinary tract, bladder, esophagus, stomach, and brain. According to scientists, eating more than 12 hot dogs per month can increase the chances of a child getting cancer. Although there are other foods that contain naturally occurring nitrites (even vegetables like green spinach, celery, and green lettuce), the vitamins present in them prevent the formation carcinogenic compounds. (2,3,4)
There is only one sure fire way to avoid this chance of cancer; eliminate hot dogs entirely from your diet. Sadly, for many families that is not a realistic option. Another easy choice would be to simply limit the amount of hot dogs your children eat on a monthly basis. One hot dog every once in a will not have have much impact on your child’s health, but children and adults who eat more than 12 hot dogs monthly, may start to start to notice some negative side effects.
Here Are Four More Things You Can Do To Avoid Eating Dangerous Scary Carcinogens (5):
- Do not buy hot dogs containing nitrates. These can be found in the grocery store or in your local food store. There are some brands that have little to no nitrates in their manufacturing. Additionally, it is important that you not consume more than a dozen nitrate infused hot dogs per month. So simply limit your intake.
- If your supermarket doesn’t carry nitrate-free hot dogs, talk to an employee and suggest that they start making them available too.
- Contact your local school board and ask about the type of hot dogs being served in the school cafeteria. If they are not nitrate free, then suggest that they switch to a different brand.
- Write the FDA and voice your opinion about nitrate hot dogs. Suggest that they either appropriately label packages as a cancer-causing food, or stop the making of nitrate hot dogs all together.
If you are worried about your child’s health, then start limiting the amount of hot dogs they eat. Even though they are an “all American food,” they are causing potentially life long consequences. Consuming a few hot dogs every once in a while will not be harmful, but incorporating other simple food options will protect your family’s health.
- Peters JM, et al. Processed meats and risk of childhood leukemia (California, USA). Cancer Causes & Control 5: 195-202, 1994.
- Sarasua S, Savitz D. Cured and broiled meat consumption in relation to childhood cancer: Denver, Colorado (United States). Cancer Causes & Control 5:141-8, 1994.
- Bunin GR, et al. Maternal diet and risk of astrocytic glioma in children: a report from the Children’s Cancer Group (United States and Canada). Cancer Causes & Control 5:177-87, 1994.
- Lijinsky W, Epstein SS. Nitrosamines as environmental carcinogens. Nature 225: 21-23, 1970.