Are Hot Dogs Really Bad for You? Um, Yes!

by Accidental Bear

You already know about the dangers of fat and cholesterol, but how about nitrates?

Q: I’m gearing up for the spring and summer barbecues and I’m wondering — what’s the deal with hot dogs? Are they really that bad for you?

A: Though I love a good dog as much as the next guy (or gal), I have to admit that hot dogs have gotten a pretty bad rap in recent years. Though that’s not to say that we’re paying much mind to the health warnings, mind you. Retail sales of hot dogs last year were northwards of $1.68 billion.

So what’s the problem with the all-American summer favorite? Well, hot dogs (and other meat that has been cured, such as bacon or salami) contain nitrates, which are added to the meat during the cooking process to prevent the growth of botulism and to help the hot dogs maintain a vibrant pinkish color (without the nitrates, the hot dogs would turn brown or gray — tantalizing, right?). Here’s the catch, though. In the human body, these nitrates form nitrosamines, which have been associated with various cancers.

In 2005, a study at the University of Hawaii linked consumption of processed meats to a 67 percent increase in the risk for pancreatic cancer. Yet another more recent study links eating too much processed meats to heart disease and diabetes. This study found that eating one serving a day of foods like bacon, hot dogs and salami was enough to greatly elevate your risk. Interestingly enough, the researchers did not find that eating unprocessed meat at the same rate led to nearly the same risk. What’s the difference in the meats that contain similar amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol? The processed meats had four times the amount of sodium and 50 percent more sodium nitrite. READ MORE

2 Comments to “Are Hot Dogs Really Bad for You? Um, Yes!”

  1. In addition to carcinogens in hot dogs and sausages, grilled meats are high in cancer-causing HCAs, so much so that restaurants serving grilled meats without public warnings (especially chicken) are in violation of CA’s Proposition 65, which requires public disclosure of known carcinogens.

    It’s so much better for our health (and for animals and the environment) to grill delicious Tofurkey sausages, veggie dogs (Tofurkey and Yves brands are good) and vegetables such as portabello mushrooms!

  2. who eats one hot dog every day?? enjoy your barbque and stop obsessing.

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