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Duke Medicine: Do hot dogs cause cancer?

Posted October 31, 2011

There’s nothing quite like enjoying a hot dog at the stadium, at a barbeque, or around a campfire.

But at what cost? Recent reports, including one released by the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research's Continuous Update Project, have cast a shadow on people’s enjoyment of hot dogs. Are the rumors true that hot dogs can bite back by giving you cancer?

Denise Snyder, a Duke nutrition researcher with an emphasis in cancer survivorship, says that you may want to think twice before throwing another wiener on the grill.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) reviewed thousands of studies -- and continue to review ongoing research -- that reflect a hot dog-cancer connection. Its conclusion: Processed meats, including hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats, are linked to increased colorectal cancer.

According to Snyder, it’s hard to point the finger at just one culprit -- preservatives, saturated fat, or other ingredients -- but the preservatives sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate should be avoided.

Read more about preservatives, healthier choices and hot dog labeling in the full post on DukeHealth.org. Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health tips and advice every Tuesday.

10 Comments

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  • ambear00 Nov 2, 2011

    There is a lot missing from this report. First, what kind of hotdog are they testing? Aren't there about two dozen different ones to choose from at the store? Beef, turkey or mystery meat? And how many do you have to eat? I think the occassional hotdog would be just fine!

  • Killian Nov 1, 2011

    I guess I am in trouble, then! =)

    I agree with the other posters...no one gets out of this life alive. While I do eat pretty healthy most of the time, I am not going to go through life stressed out over every thing I eat. Enjoy it!

  • snowl Nov 1, 2011

    p.s. I agree with Platinum, Smoking is much worse if we are talking about risky habits. I'd rather take a chance on a lottery ticket and a hotdog! :)

  • snowl Nov 1, 2011

    I will take my chances. We all have to die sometime from something. I don't worry, life is too short, so enjoy a hotdog now and again. Yummy.

  • Platinum Nov 1, 2011

    I'll not force anyone to eat my bacon if all you cigarette smokers will stop blowing your nasty carcinogens in my face. Deal? Nitrites have nothing on nicotine.

  • Mobile Geek Nov 1, 2011

    The problem with studies are they are often narrowly focused and don't account for overall lifestyles, frequency of consumption, other foods consumed or not consumed. One study may say hot dogs give you cancer, and another will say fiber helps prevent cancer. I imagine the occasional hot dog won't hurt. For that matter I would say most things in moderation won't hurt you.

  • luv evr1 Nov 1, 2011

    Haven't we learned that anything processed is eventually going to kill us with high cholesterol or cancer?

  • TeenDAD Nov 1, 2011

    Right so I'm sure your 1 study on rats and mice outweighs the "thousands of studies" they reviewed. O_o

  • horrorfan101 Nov 1, 2011

    Way to go jrcoughlin. Take that Ask MOM!!!!

  • jrcoughlin Oct 31, 2011

    As an expert in nutritional toxicology who began researching nitrite and cancer in 1974 for my Ph.D. and postdoctoral studies at the University of California at Davis, I must strongly disagree with your assessment of nitrite's cancer risks. The chemical was tested by your neighbors at the U.S. National Toxicology Program (in Research Triangle Park), who reported in 2001 that sodium nitrite, when fed in a lifetime cancer bioassay to rats and mice at massive daily doses, did not increase any tumor incidences or neoplastic changes. I and my colleagues published a recent authoritative risk-benefit analysis of dietary nitrite in a leading journal [Nitric Oxide 22:110–119, 2010], concluding that the health benefits of nitrite in processed meats far outweigh any remotely conceivable risks.