Andy in our Honolulu wellness department sent me a link to a story about a lawsuit filed on Wednesday (yesterday) asking a New Jersey county court to make food companies put cancer warning labels on hot dogs sold in New Jersey.

Neal Barnard, the President of the Cancer Project, the organization that filed the lawusit, who is an adjunct professor at the George Washington University medical school in Washington, DC, told the Los Anegeles Times that:

"Just as tobacco causes lung cancer, processed meats are linked to colon cancer."

"Companies that sell hot dogs are well aware of the danger, and their customers deserve the same information," he added.

According to Cancer Project 62 per cent of Americans eat some kind of processed pork, and that in 2006, 1.5 billion pounds of hot dogs were consumed in the US, at an average of 32 pounds a year per person. In case you don't remember my graphic blog posts about hot dogs (if you do remember you can skip over the rest of this paragraph) hot dogs are made of blood, organs (i.e. brains, kidneys, liver, etc.) fat, and other unusable meat scraps all put into intestines. Eating 32 pounds of that a year sounds disgusting not to mention unhealthy.

The group refers to a report from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund where scientists say there is no safe amount of processed meat that can be eaten, and that just one 50-gram serving of bacon, sausage, deli meats or other processed meats, every day increases a person's chance of getting colorectal cancer by 21 per cent on average.

According to the article, processed and cured meats contain nitrites which are added to help preserve the meat. When ingested, these break down into nitrosamines and other chemicals that are thought to be cancer-causing. Some scientists say it could be the fat content of the hot dogs, 30 - 50% by weight, that is linked to the cancer. So, it is either the nitrates or the fat, or both, that are causing the cancer.

According to the article, every year, about 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and about 50,000 Americans are expected to die of the disease in 2009.

As you can expect, the hot dog makers are not too thrilled. Sydney Lindner, a spokeswoman from Kraft told the press: "These proposals are unfounded. Hot dogs have been enjoyed by consumers for more than 100 years." What a great argument "people like eating hot dogs therefore they could not possibly cause cancer!" It is a bit like the tobacco industry saying that "people like smoking" so therefore it doesn't matter that it kills them.

To read the article:

Love Life! Love animals, don't eat them.

Mark Fergusson