WASHINGTON—In advance of the World Health Organization declaring processed meats such as hot dogs as cancerous as asbestos, the Physicians Committee—a nonprofit of 12,000 doctors—is urging schools, hospitals, and public institutions to remove processed meats from menus and provide students and patients with cancer-fighting resources from DropTheDog.org.
“Schools and hospitals are required to protect students and patients from cancer-causing asbestos,” says Physicians Committee director of nutrition education Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. “If the World Health Organization says processed meats are just as dangerous, it’s time to protect them from hot dogs and pepperoni, too.”
Eating just 50 grams of processed meat a day—a hot dog—increases colorectal cancer risk, according to one study. An ongoing analysis of nutrition and cancer by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute of Cancer Research found in 2007 that that processed meat products are “convincing” as risk factors for colorectal cancer, increasing risk by up to 50 percent for those who eat the most. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among men and women, with 1 in 20 developing it in his or her lifetime.
Studies have also linked processed meat to prostate cancer, bladder cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and early death.
Nearly a quarter of the meat products Americans consume are processed meat, which also include bacon, pepperoni, deli slices, sausage, and any other meat products that have been preserved with additives or otherwise manipulated to alter color, taste, and durability. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting processed meat products.
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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 and medical training.