Illinois Men Have among Nation’s Highest Colorectal Cancer Rates
WASHINGTON—A huge billboard off the Eisenhower Expressway warns Chicagoans that eating hot dogs can damage their health. The board, sponsored by the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, reads, “Hot Dogs Cause Butt Cancer” and directs readers to www.PCRM.org.
The billboard also features a cartoon drawing of a man in a hospital gown, hot dog in one hand, perplexed eyes fixed on his protruding behind. The ad is visible from the Eisenhower Expressway heading west, between the Kostner and Cicero exits, and is located at 621 S. Kolmar. Download billboard image >
The billboard’s blunt language was prompted by a recent survey showing that a surprising number—39 percent—of Americans do not know what the colon is.
“Colon cancer is a killer, and processed meats get much of the blame,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., nutrition education director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “Many Americans have no idea that eating hot dogs and bacon raises their risk of this deadly disease. Even a few servings of processed meat a week can increase cancer danger.”
Seventy percent of Americans does not know what part of the body is more likely to get cancer as a result of eating processed meats frequently, according to a recent telephone survey of the U.S. adult public conducted by ORC International of Princeton, N.J., sponsored by PCRM. Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed did not know that “colon” is another name for the large intestine.
Americans eat 20 billion hot dogs a year, as well as significant amounts of bacon, cold cuts, and other processed meats. Chicago is one of the largest consumers of hot dogs nationwide, and hot dog restaurants here are said to outnumber all fast-food restaurants combined. The Chicago area is home to leading hot dog manufacturers like Kraft Foods, which produces Oscar Mayer franks, Sara Lee, producer of Ball Park Franks, and Vienna Beef.
Illinois also has one of the nation’s highest rates of colorectal cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Illinois ranks sixth in the nation for colorectal cancer incidence rates. Illinois men are also among the most likely in the nation to get colorectal cancer. Every year, more than 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 50,000 die of it.
Consuming processed meats increases the risk of colorectal cancer, according to a large number of studies, including the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Studies also show a strong link between other types of cancer and processed meats. An NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, for example, found that processed red meat was associated with a 10 percent increased risk of prostate cancer with every 10 grams of increased intake.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.