Are Hot Dogs as Bad as Cigarettes?

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Last year, during the Indianapolis 500, while racecars went around and around (and around) Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 1.1 million hot dogs were purchased (and likely consumed) by race attendees. 

That many dogs eaten in one location apparently set off some alarm bells for The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington, D.C., group that promotes preventive medicine and a vegan diet, according to USA Today. As a result, the group put $2,750 down on a billboard near the Speedway and put an ad up there that shows hot dogs in a cigarette pack along with a skull and crossbones. For once, the concern isn’t obesity with this food warning; it’s cancer.

The billboard’s text accompanying the alarming graphic: “Warning: Hot dogs can wreck your health.”[more]

The hope, USA Today reports, is to show consumers that there is a connection between hot-dog consumption and colorectal cancer. “Just one 50-gram serving of processed meat — about the amount in one hot dog — a day increases the risk of colorectal cancer, on average, by 21 percent,” the PCRM claims.

Susan Levin, the group’s nutrition education director, says that hot dogs should come with “warning label(s) that help racing fans and other consumers understand the health risk,” the paper notes. She went on to say that the warning should help consumers not eat processed meat, such as bacon, pepperoni and deli meats, in general. “A hot dog a day could send you to an early grave,” she said. “People think feeding their kids these foods (is) safe, but (it’s) not.”

However, other health experts didn’t think an occasional hot dog would kill anyone. “I don’t personally tell people never to eat hot dogs, because I guess I’m just realistic enough to know that people will still consume them to some degree,” said Dr. Jesse Spear, an internal medicine physician with St. Vincent Medical Group in Fishers, Ind., the paper reports.

Wonder if anyone has broken the news yet to California’s Joey Chesnut, who won his fifth straight Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog eating title on July Fourth by chowing down 62 hot dogs and buns in the 10 minutes of the contest?

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