Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Americans eat 7 billion hot dogs. That’s more than 800 hot dogs a second. It’s as if the entire nation has signed up for a hot-dog eating contest. But instead of winning a prize, our country loses big time. We have disturbingly high rates of a deadly type of cancer.
Here are the numbers: Just one 50-gram serving of processed meat (about the amount in one hot dog) consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer, on average, by 21 percent. Cancer researchers recommend cutting out hot dogs and other processed meats completely.
Throwing hot dogs on the grill makes a risky product even worse. Grilling meats produces carcinogens. Called heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, they can bind directly to DNA, cause mutations, and trigger the cancer process. HCAs have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer and colon cancer, among others.
The good news? There are plenty of other grillable foods: soy dogs, veggie kebabs, portabello mushroom “steaks,” corn on the cob, and baked potatoes. These healthful vegetarian alternatives are also low in fat and cholesterol and high in cancer-fighting fiber.