The Cancer Project, a national cancer prevention group, wants processed meats such as hot dogs to be banned from school cafeterias.
To communicate the message, the group is running a TV ad that features schoolchildren dining on cafeteria hot dogs and pepperoni pizza. One little boy says, "I thought I'd live forever. I was dumbfounded when the doctor told me I have late-stage colon cancer."
It's certainly attention-grabbing. Jennifer Reilly, senior nutritionist for the Cancer Project, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the point of the ad was not to alarm but to teach parents and school food directors about the importance of healthy choices.
The inspiration behind the campaign is the latest news from the American Institute for Cancer Research, which recently published a report concluding diets high in red meat (beef, pork and lamb) and especially processed meats (such as hot dogs) are a convincing cause of colorectal cancer.
According to the Inquirer, The Cancer Project says that eating hot dogs, sausage patties and similar foods increases a person's risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent for every 50 grams eaten daily. The article says 50 grams is the size of one hot dog.
The Cancer Project looked at menus in 38 school districts around the country, and launched its ad campaign in "failing districts" Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Chicago.
But as usual, others suggest moderation is the key.
The paper quotes Paul Lyons, professor of family medicine at Temple University School of Medicine: "There are lots of reasons not to give your children large quantities of processed meats cancer is one, but there are better ones, like high calories, high sodium, and high fat. If your child eats hot dogs once in a while, I don't think that you need to worry that they'll get cancer."
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