A NEW LEASE—on Life!

By Judit Rajhathy, B.A., RNCP, D.Ac1.

Hot Dogs - Maybe . . . but Chicken?


Most people know that processed meats are carcinogenic because they usually contain sodium nitrite, a preservative which turns into toxic nitrosamines in the body. But few people know that a report by the World Cancer Research fund (WCRF) found that eating just one sausage a day increases your chance of getting bowel cancer by 20 percent. Yikes!

If that is not bad enough other studies have found that processed meats increase the risk of colon cancer by 50%, bladder cancer by 59%, and stomach cancer by 38%.  Research at the University of Hawaii studying 200,00 men and women for a seven year period who consumed large amounts of processed meat showed a 67% increased risk of pancreatic cancer over those who consumed little or no meat products.

After reviewing all data connecting nutrition and cancer risk, another group, The Cancer Project, concluded that processed meats increase the risk of colorectal cancer, on average by 21% for every 50 grams consumed daily and this serving is approximately the size of just one typical wiener!  The report concludes that no amount of processed meat is considered safe for human consumption. This same project developed a very shocking, profound television ad based on this same report called “Protect Our Kids.”

The ad is called “What You Don’t Know About Hot Dogs Could Kill You” and it features three elementary school children who describe their lives from the perspective of adults who are battling cancer. It is interspersed with still shots of processed meats that are often found in school lunches.  It is quite an eye-opener.  You can learn more by checking out www.CancerProject.org.  So if you insist upon eating processed meats, buy the stuff that says ‘uncured’ - ones that do not use nitrites.

Just when I thought I was doing the right thing by switching over to my beloved rotisserie chicken . . . and loving the skin the most - in fact the darker the skin the better the taste - I thought I was ahead of the game by eating chicken instead of processed meats.  Wrong! HCAs, otherwise known as heterocyclic amines, are compounds created in meats and other foods that have been cooked at high temperatures and these compounds are known to cause an increase in stomach, colon and breast cancers.

According to a study published in the June issue of Meat Science it was found that the skin of rotisserie chicken is one of the worst culprits.  Grilling is worse because it also exposes animal products to cancer-causing chemicals in the smoke that results from burning coals.  How long the item is cooked is also a factor in heterocyclic amine formation so the shorter the cooking time the safer it is for consumption.

Time for reflection once again . . . I only hope that as I pass by my favorite rotisserie chicken place I can resist the urge to chow down on my favorite parts - the more crunch and burned the better the taste! Now I will need to deal with this information . . .

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