We know eating processed flesh is terrible for our bodies.  We are self-poisoning ourselves by our relentless, and purposeful — injection-by-swallowing — of impure foodstuffs like hot dogs and bacon and other processed “meat.”

Why do we knowingly and willingly eat things that we are are bad for our health?  Is it because we are lazy, or is it because we’ve given up on caring?  We can’t think we’re invincible with all the cancer spreading around us.

A month ago, Dr. Neal Barnard, MD — President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine — placed the issue smack in the public eye:

Every year, about 143,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 50,000 die of the disease. About half of all cases are already incurable when found. The U.S. Government and other entities have poured millions of dollars into the search for the cause. But one of the causes they found turned out to be too hot for the government to handle.

It’s the ordinary hot dog. At least 58 scientific studies have looked at the issue, and the jury has rendered its verdict, which is now beyond reasonable doubt. The more hot dogs people eat, the higher their risk of colorectal cancer. And it’s not just hot dogs. Any sort of processed meat — bacon, sausage, ham, deli slices — is in this group. And here are the numbers: Every 50 grams of processed meat you eat on a daily basis (that’s about one hot dog) increases your risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent. And just as there is no safe level of smoking, no amount of hot dogs, bacon, sausage, ham or other processed meats comes out clean in scientific studies.

What has amazed me about the response to Dr. Barnard’s argument is not the lack of decreased eating of processed meat in light of this new information, but rather in the venomous, and pressed, public arguments in publications like the Montreal Gazette against his point-of-view with a counter-logic that makes no health sense:

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is actually a veiled animal-rights group, recently placed a billboard near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that features hotdogs in a cigarette pack inscribed with skull and crossbones and the message “Warning: Hot dogs can wreck your health.”

Really? How many do you have to eat before you plant a foot in the grave? One a day? One a week? One a month? A dietitian working for the group provides an answer.

“A hot dog a day could send you to an early grave,” she pontificates. Where’s the evidence for that? In any case we don’t eat a hot dog a day. On average we eat one every five days. Nevertheless, the “physicians committee” wants hot dogs to sport a label with a warning: “Consuming hotdogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer.” But remember that that this comes from a group that attacks any and all foods that come from an animal source and opposes all animal experimentation. Hardly responsible medicine.

What is the point of arguing for the continuation of eating processed meats?  Is it that these hot dogs and their ilk are, indeed, killing us, but not as fast as we hoped?  Or is it that we will eat what we want because we are masters of our own destiny, and we will die by our own hand and not from the wagging finger of a scolding doctor?

2 Comments

    1. I guess it’s a “processed meat” addiction. I’d like to see a 21% sales tax levied on all processed meats — that will offset the higher cancer rates that the rest of us have to deal with in growing public health crises of people who just don’t care…

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