Eating Hot Dogs as Risky as Smoking Cigarettes?

Image of Hot Dogs in Cigarette Pack Highlights Health Risks of Processed Meats

Chowing down on a juicy hot dog is just as risky to our health as smoking a cigarette. That's the message on a giant billboard perched 200 feet in the air near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hot dogs are an American favorite and served in about 95 percent of the homes across the nation. Americans ate more than 16 billion hot dogs last year alone, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.

Roughly 1.1 million hot dogs were served up to hungry NASCAR fans at the speedway last year. However, health officials say eating processed meat is a really bad idea because it can cause colon cancer.

That’s the message leaders at the Cancer Project of the group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) want to get out.

PCRM installed the giant sign this week and the graphics are now drawing national attention.

It features an image of hot dogs sticking out of a cigarette pack with the skull and crossbones stamped on the front.

The billboard reads: “Warning: Hot dogs can wreck your health,” and directs race fans to

“A hot dog a day could send you to an early grave,” said PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin.

“Processed meats like hot dogs can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and various types of cancer. Like cigarettes, hot dogs should come with a warning label that helps consumers understand the health risk.”

A fresh look at the cancer risks by the American Institute for Cancer Research shows one 50-gram serving of processed meat (about the amount in one hot dog) consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by more than 20 percent.

Those who regularly eat processed meats increase their risk for diabetes by about 41 percent.

Cancer researchers also said that every year about 143,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and approximately 53,000 die of it.

“Hot dogs and all other processed meats should come with a warning label, like cigarettes do, to warn consumers of the health risks,” Levin said.

The new "hot dog" campaign was initiated by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund after both organizations reached the conclusion that eating processed meats is as risky as smoking cigarettes.

Cigarette smoking causes an estimated 443,000 deaths each year, including approximately 49,400 deaths due to exposure to secondhand smoke.

People who smoke are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than nonsmokers, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked.

Smoking also causes most cases of chronic lung disease. It also causes a host of other cancers including throat, mouth, nasal cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix, and acute myeloid leukemia.

For more information on the causes of cancer visit The National Cancer Institute:

Hot Dog Facts:

- The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council said Americans consume on average about 60 hotdogs between the Memorial and Labor Day holidays.

- During the Fourth of July, the nation enjoys about 150 million hot dogs, which is enough to stretch from Washington D.C. to California more than five times.

- Chicago's O’Hare International Airport sells more hot dogs than any other location in the USA, over 2 million a year.

- A recent trend in the market shows companies are producing more nutritious hot dogs including the all-beef hot dog. Other new products may use poultry meat, which has inherently less fat, or meat substitutes, which have no fat at all. They are also making hot dogs with less sodium.

Did you know?

Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his wife, Eleanor, wanting to introduce something truly American to the visiting King George VI of England and his queen, served the royal guests Nathan's hot dogs at a picnic at their estate in Hyde Park, New York on June 11, 1939. The press made a great deal about the hotdogs, and the picnic menu made the front page of The New York Times.

The King was so pleased with "this delightful hot-dog sandwich" that he asked Mrs. Roosevelt for another one.

Source: National Hot Dog and Sausage Council

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