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The Physicians Committee

Keep Hot Dogs Off Your Plate this Baseball Season

April 5, 2016   Dr. Neal Barnard   ,

This week, Major League Baseball teams are celebrating Opening Day—and kicking off a season of increased colorectal cancer risk for baseball fans. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, baseball fans are expected to eat more than 19 million hot dogs during the 2016 season. But even eating just one hot dog a day can increase the risk of colorectal cancer, which kills more than 50,000 Americans per year.

Late last year, the World Health Organization released a report declaring hot dogs and other processed meats “carcinogenic to humans.” Studies show that consuming one daily 50-gram serving of processed meat—about the size of a typical hot dog—increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent.

Unfortunately, some stadiums have taken baseball’s deadly hot dog addiction to a new extreme this year. The Atlanta Braves recently debuted “The Everything Dog”—a foot-long hot dog piled high with french fries, popcorn, chips, chili, and beer cheese. The Arizona Diamondbacks are offering a deep-fried Cheeseburger Dog made of ground hamburgers, bacon, and cheese, while the Pittsburgh Pirates are selling a Cracker Jack & Mac Dog—a hot dog topped with Cracker Jacks, macaroni and cheese, salted caramel sauce, and fried jalapeños.

Fortunately, other teams are stepping up to the plate and offering more health-promoting options. The Texas Rangers recently unveiled a brand new all-vegan concession stand for the 2016 season, which sells black bean burgers, spinach wraps, fresh fruit, and veggie hot dogs.

At AT&T Park in San Francisco, Giants fans can sample fresh strawberries, avocados, lemons, and other produce grown in a vegetable garden in the outfield. The fresh fruits and vegetables are incorporated into vegetable flatbreads, strawberry smoothies, and kale salads sold at the stadium.

As some teams begin to offer healthful, plant-based options, it’s time for the rest of Major League Baseball to start incorporating our country’s health into our national pastime—and to strike out hot dogs for good.

Alec Baldwin’s Radical Nutrition Plan: Replace Meal Replacement Bars

April 1, 2016   Dr. Neal Barnard   ,

Hooked on meal replacement bars? Alec Baldwin has revolutionary nutrition advice for you:

Try a Meal Replacement Bar Replacement Meal.

Today, Mr. Baldwin teams up with the Physicians Committee in a new PSA to raise awareness of the benefits of the Meal Replacement Bar Replacement Meal. Not only will you save time and money when you ditch the bland, beige bars, but you’ll reap the benefits of filling your plate with real, whole, plant-based foods.

And the Meal Replacement Bar Replacement Meal is not just backed by Mr. Baldwin, but science, too. A new study finds that eating more fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes could save millions of lives and trillions of dollars.

Watch the new PSA and visit MealReplacementBarReplacementMeal.org to see some of our favorite Meal Replacement Bar Replacement Meal recipes!



Death by Deli Meat? Keep Cancer-Causing Foods Out of Schools

March 30, 2016   Dr. Neal Barnard   ,

Do you live in a cancer hot spot?

Colorectal cancer kills more than 50,000 Americans per year, making it the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States. But the toll is especially high in certain regions of the country. Recently, researchers with the American Cancer Society discovered three geographic regions in the U.S. with exceptionally high death rates from colorectal cancer—up to 40 percent higher than the national average in some cases: the Lower Mississippi Delta, west Central Appalachia, and eastern Virginia and North Carolina.

But what if these deaths were preventable?

Late last year, the World Health Organization declared that processed meats such as hot dogs, pepperoni, bacon, sausage, and deli meats are carcinogenic to humans. The authors highlighted a meta-analysis that found each 50 gram portion of processed meat—approximately the size of a hot dog or two strips of bacon—eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent.

For the month of March—which is also Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month— the Physicians Committee sought to raise awareness of the link between diet and colorectal cancer in the regions of the country most affected by the disease. We placed billboards in 12 cities located in the six states with the highest colorectal cancer death rates: Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nevada, and West Virginia.

In an effort to prevent future fatalities, the campaign focuses on school districts who routinely serve hot dogs, deli meat, bacon, sausage, and pepperoni pizza to students. The billboards feature the image of a skull and crossbones formed from a sausage patty and hot dogs and warn “Cancer-Causing Foods Don’t Belong in Schools. Processed Meats Cause Cancer. DropTheHotDog.org.”

The Physicians Committee also reached out to the food service directors in each of the 12 cities and sent them a toolkit with information on the dangers of processed meats, tips for removing processed meats from school meals, and recipe swaps.

Would you like to join us in preventing future fatalities from colorectal cancer? Share our processed meat toolkit with your food service director and sign our petition asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop offering processed meats in the National School Lunch Program. And once you’ve dropped the hot dog, be sure to celebrate by making a healthy, fun alternative: the banana dog!


White House: End American Egg Board’s Easter Egg Roll

March 23, 2016   Dr. Neal Barnard   ,

The American Egg Board tried to quash Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo—an eggless, plant-based mayonnaise—last year. It lost. Now it’s time to get the American Egg Board out of the White House. It will supply more than 30,000 hard-boiled eggs for the White House Easter Egg Roll on March 28.

It’s a scheme the industry-backed organization uses to push disease-causing eggs to even the youngest Americans. Thanks to marketing like this, 1 in 5 children in the United States has high cholesterol. This places them at greater risk for future diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

At the Physicians Committee’s International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine: Cardiovascular Disease last summer, Gerald Berenson, M.D., presented research showing many children have at least one risk factor for heart disease by the time they reach elementary school. In his long-running Bogalusa Heart Study, Dr. Berenson’s team found that signs of hypertension and atherosclerosis can appear by ages 5 to 8.

But there is hope. At the conference, Michael Macknin, M.D, presented a groundbreaking study finding that dietary interventions can reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors in children. In the study, overweight children who adopted a plant-based diet lost weight, reduced cholesterol levels, and improved blood pressure numbers within weeks.

The White House can do its part to help stop heart disease and diabetes in children by putting an end to the American Egg Board’s Easter egg roll and hatching a plan for a healthier way to help children celebrate the holiday.



Cut Out Cold Cuts on National Cold Cuts Day

March 3, 2016   Dr. Neal Barnard   ,

Today is National Cold Cuts Day. But before you break out the salami sandwiches in celebration, keep in mind that we’re also in the middle of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

The link between processed meats and colorectal cancer isn’t new. And late last year, a scientific report from the World Health Organization should have delivered the final blow to hot dogs, bacon, pepperoni, and deli meat. The report listed these products as known human carcinogens, alongside asbestos and cigarettes. The authors cited evidence showing that one serving of processed meat per day—a couple slices of bacon for breakfast or a turkey sandwich for lunch—increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. In fact, processed meats are so strongly linked to cancer that the World Cancer Research Fund warns that no amount is safe. Not a single slice.  

So why are turkey and ham sandwiches still staples on the school lunch line? In October, the Physicians Committee posed that question to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We filed a petition asking that the National School Lunch Program and National School Breakfast Program stop offering processed meat products to students.

Can it be done? One school in New York is proving that it can. P.S. 244Q, The Active Learning Elementary School, has not only ditched the deli meat, but has gotten rid of meat all together. This month, students are biting into chickpea salads, pesto pasta with broccoli, and teriyaki tofu for lunch. The verdict? Rave reviews from students, teachers, and parents. TALES principal Robert Groff reports that since making the switch to an all-vegetarian menu, students’ energy levels, attendance, and test scores have all improved. Click here to see TALES students’ reactions to a lunch line filled with rice, beans, plantains, salad, and apples.

Trying to cut the cold cuts out of your own lunches? Read our tips on how to build a vegan sandwich and check out our Bacon, Sprout, Tomato Sandwich.



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