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Hot Dogs Cause Cancer, Says Ad Aimed at Kids

August 27, 2008 05:01 PM
by Isabel Cowles
As part of a campaign to get processed meats out of schools, the Cancer Project released a controversial commercial citing a link between hot dogs and colon cancer.

New Commercial Scares Kids Away from Processed Meat

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As part of a campaign to stop public schools from serving processed meats, a nonprofit, provegetarian group called the Cancer Project recently produced a controversial commercial to deter youngsters from consuming unhealthy meat. The ad shows a group of kids eating hot dogs and pizza in a school cafeteria; one little boy says, “I was dumbfounded when the doctor told me I have late-stage colon cancer.”

Citing a report by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund, the Cancer Project warns that eating hot dogs, sausages and bacon increases a person’s risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent with every 50 grams consumed per day. “Fifty grams is the size of one hot dog,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

In reality, the boy does not have cancer; the ad was designed as a “dramatization” to highlight research that links a diet high in processed meats to increased risk for colon cancer. However, the research uses data gathered from adults, not children.
Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and head of the Cancer Project, called the commercial “a way to raise appropriate concern about a deadly concern.” The group asserts that “No amount of processed meat is considered safe to eat.”

In contrast, Colleen Doyle, nutrition director of the American Cancer Society stated, “My concern about this campaign is it’s giving the indication that the occasional hot dog in the school lunch is going to increase cancer risk. An occasional hot dog isn’t going to increase that risk.”

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) clarified its position on the risks associated with meat consumption in an August 7 press release. According to the AICR, “making processed meats an everyday part of the diet, as many Americans do, poses clear and serious risks. That is why AICR now recommends avoiding hot dogs, sausages, bacon, ham, cold cuts and other processed meats.” But, the release qualifies, “This does not suggest … that an occasional hot dog at a ball game, or a slice of ham at Easter, will cause colon cancer.”

Key Player: The Cancer Project

Related Topic: Controversial ads aimed at children

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