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hot dogs as bad for you as cigarettes?

Thanks to alert reader Lowana, for sending me this article about hot dogs. I think the very first nutrition study I read in my 20′s was about childhood cancer. The study found only one commonality in the children who had developed cancer, versus the control group: they consumed 11+ hot dogs per month. (Yes, I realize how weird it is that I have remembered that precise statistic for 20 years).

The Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine (doctors advocating for a plant-based diet) put a billboard up along the Indianapolis Motor Speedway warning people that hot dogs can wreck your health like cigarettes do. Time Magazine in May cited an American Institute for Cancer Research study that people who eat 3.5 oz. of processed meat daily have a 36% greater risk of colon cancer.

I had a college roommate, my junior year, named Cindy. She told me that as an only child raised by innkeepers in a ski-resort town, she ate nothing but Twinkies and white bread & baloney sandwiches her entire childhood. By the time she was 20 years old and living with me, she had colitis that prevented any kind of a social life.

The other three of us living in that apartment were engaged and paying little attention, but poor Cindy spent well over 12 hours a day in the bathroom. She was terrified to go on a date, because she’d have to flee for the bathroom several times. She had terrible acne, and she tried valiantly to manage her disease by getting colonics on a regular basis and eating only a handful of foods she kept in a closet. (None of them were very nutritious foods, as I recall.)

I just learned that in May, right when that Time Magazine article came out, Cindy died of colon cancer after a ravaging bout of chemotherapy. What a tragedy. I’m not amazed that people die when they eat processed meat for 20 years—I’m amazed when they live.

Nitrites and nitrates are the most carcinogenic food additives approved by the FDA. They are in all processed meats, including hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and baloney. I hope if you avoid just two things, it’s processed meat, and soda!

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