I believe everybody loves hotdogs. It’s the favorite snack for picnics, movies, and parties. We all love it with cheese, or with ketchup. We all love it fried, or grilled. Kids root for it, even us adults, we love it. We blend it with many of our cookings. We use it in spaghettis, pasta recipes, and many other major dishes. But, hotdogs are said to be risky.
According to a Los Angeles Times article:
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.
Here’s what wrong with hotdogs…
Hotdogs that contains nitrite additives are risky. Nitrite additives are carcinogens, thus they might cause cancer.
Three different studies have come out in the past year, finding that the consumption of hot dogs can be a risk factor for childhood cancer.
A study found that children eating more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukaemia. A strong risk for childhood leukemia also existed for those children whose fathers’ intake of hot dogs was 12 or more per month.
Researchers Sarusua and Savitz studied childhood cancer cases in Denver and found that children born to mothers who consumed hot dogs one or more times per week during pregnancy has approximately double the risk of developing brain tumors. Children who ate hot dogs one or more times per week were also at higher risk of brain cancer.
Bunin et al, also found that maternal consumption of hot dogs during pregnancy was associated with an excess risk of childhood brain tumors.
So, how do hotdogs cause cancer?
Hotdogs manufacturers include nitrites as a preservative to combat botulism (or food poisoning caused by a bacterium (botulinum) growing on improperly sterilized canned meats and other preserved foods.). During the cooking process, nitrites combine with amines naturally present in the meat to form carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds. It is suspected that nitrites can combine with amines in the human stomach to form N-nitroso compounds. These compounds are known carcinogens and have been associated with cancer of the oral cavity, urinary bladder, esophagus, stomach and brain.
But… but.. vegetables contain nitrites, too, so they are cancerous, too?
It is true that nitrites are commonly found in many green vegetables, especially spinach, celery and green lettuce. However, the consumption of vegetables appears to be effective in reducing the risk of cancer. How is this possible? The explanation lies in the formation of N-nitroso compounds from nitrites and amines. Nitrite containing vegetables also have Vitamin C and D, which serve to inhibit the formation of N-nitroso compounds. Consequently, vegetables are quite safe and healthy, and serve to reduce your cancer risk.
All cured meat have nitrites. But not all hotdogs in the market have nitrites. Modern refrigeration methods have made it possible for hotdogs to be made without nitrites. Commonly, nitrite is used for the red color nitrites produce (red is associated with freshness) and not for purposes of preservation. Hotdogs without nitrites have brownish color instead of red, but tastes the same as hotdogs with nitrite (but are less popular than nitrite hotdogs).
Peters J, 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, S. “Nitrosamines as environmental carcinogens,” Nature 225 (5227): 2112, 1970.