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Take a break from stuffing that Hebrew National frank down your piehole and weep: Hot dogs give you cancer. Or actually, even worse—hot dogs may give you genetic mutations that lead to cancer. From LiveScience:

[University of Nebraska Medical Center Sidney] Mirvish and his colleagues examined hot dogs because past research had linked them with colon cancer. Hot dogs are preserved with sodium nitrite, which can help form chemicals known as N-nitroso compounds, most of which cause cancer in lab animals.

Extracts from hot dogs bought from the supermarket, when mixed with nitrites, resulted in what appeared to be these DNA-mutating compounds. When added to Salmonella bacteria, hot dog extracts treated with nitrites doubled to quadruple their normal DNA mutation levels. Triggering DNA mutations in the gut might boost the risk for colon cancer, the researchers explained.

"I won't say you shouldn't eat hot dogs," Mirvish said. Future research will feed hot dog meat to mice to see if they develop colon cancer or precancerous conditions, he explained.

I haven't read the full study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. (Here's an abstract and, on the off chance you're a subscriber, a PDF of the full article.) But I would think at least half the chemical crap in hot dogs is there to kill salmonella bacteria, so I don't know whether this was a realistic test. But presumably Mirvish, who looks well enough for a man of a certain age, knows his way around good and bad nutrition. "One could try and find out what the difference in manufacturing techniques are between the brands, and if it's decided these things are a hazard, one could change the manufacturing methods," Mirvish tells LiveScience.

Hard news for America, where 7 billion hot dogs are consumed in an average summer. Harder news for six-time Nathan's Famous hot dog eating champion Takeru Kobayashi.

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  1. For lunch today, I had a can of WalMart Great Value Vienna saugages which I was able to procure for 40 cents.

  2. Hey, this is a good excuse to link to:

    Walken on Hot Dogs

  3. This was a popular left-wing assertion when I was growing up, to the effect that sodium nitrate was bad for you. I had a friend in grade school whose mother wouldn’t let him eat bologna. And now it turns out that it’s all TRUE? What else has Big Meat been concealing from us?

  4. James, Big Meat’s never concealed anything; they usually let it all hang out.

  5. I really, really don’t want to bring up stereotypes, but is it a coincidence that a blogger from China shows up in a discussion about eating (hot) dogs?

    Readying deployment of preemptive apology.

  6. As X-men shows us, being a mutant can be pretty cool.

    But a Hot Dog mutant? I don’t know…

  7. The biggest health risk by far is obesity. Eat fewer hot dogs (pancakes, steaks, latkes, donuts, blintzes, etc., etc.) You will still die eventually, of course, but you stand a better chance of not being crippled, blind, and in great pain for years before you finally do kick off. Pass the mustard.

  8. I’ve never had latkes before, but if they’re as good as hot dogs, pancakes, steaks, donuts and blintzes, I’ll have to run out and try one right away!

  9. “Extracts from hot dogs bought from the supermarket, when mixed with nitrites, resulted in what appeared to be these DNA-mutating compounds.”

    ‘When mixed with nitrites’??

    So, did they add additional nitrites to commericially-available hotdogs? What does that prove?

  10. They can take all the coloring agents out of my sausages if they want to. They’ll still taste good. As for chemicals pumped into them to kill bacteria, we could always irradiate them. It’s not like a knockwurst will turn green, burst through most of its now-purple casing, and rampage through town, right?


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