Hot dogs are just as American as hamburgers and apple pie. I remember growing up eating grilled hot dogs and hot dogs mixed with macaroni and cheese. It is delicious, and many children live on hot dogs at home. I do not eat hot dogs now, but I still remember the chemically addicting taste. About 155 million hot dogs are consumed every fourth of July nation-wide. That is a lot of ‘dogs!

However, doctors are now telling parents one crucial message.

Stop feeding your kids hot dogs!

According to new research, children who consume over a dozen hot dogs a month are nine times more likely to develop leukemia. Leukemia is a blood cancer where the bone marrow and other blood-forming organs produce increased numbers of immature or abnormal leukocytes. These suppress the production of normal blood cells, leading to anemia and other symptoms.

According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society over 24,000 people are expected to die from leukemia in 2015.

These effects are not only linked to children. Fathers who often ate hot dogs before conceiving are more likely to pass cancer to their children and pregnant women who ate a hot dog are more likely to have children who will develop a brain tumor.

It’s been suggested that the nitrates contained in hot dogs are the cause of these health problems.

Processed red meat commonly contains sodium, nitrates, phosphates and other food additives, and smoked and grilled meats also contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, all of which may contribute to the increased heart failure risk,” explains Alicja Wolk, D.M.Sc.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, these nitrates act as preservatives to prevent food from spoiling, and they also add colour to the meat.

Nitrites and nitrates are not cancer-causing by themselves, but in certain conditions in the body they can be changed into by-products called N-nitroso compounds, such as nitrosamines and nitrosamides. N-nitroso compounds are associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Vitamin C may be added to some preserved meats. Vitamin C keeps nitrites from changing into nitrosamines, which may help reduce the risk of cancer associated with these chemicals.

However, new cases of nitrate-caused cancers still appear at an alarming rate each year.

How To Avoid Nitrate-Filled Foods

Minimize your consumption of processed foods and cured meat products such as hot dogs, sausage and cold cuts.

Check labels carefully and avoid products that list sodium or potassium nitrates and nitrites. In addition to lunch meat, some canned beans and vegetables with bacon, and even packaged seafood, may contain these added chemicals.

Eat organic food. Synthetic nitrates and nitrites are not allowed as preservatives in organic packaged foods and meats.

Find out if your water is tainted with nitrates or nitrites. Public drinking water utilities test for these compounds and must disclose their results. If you drink well water, your local health department can help you find out if this is a problem in your area. You can also have your water tested by a laboratory. If the chemicals are present, consider treating your water with a home water distiller, a reverse osmosis filter or an ion exchange filter to remove any fertilizer nitrates in the groundwater.

Eat a diet high in antioxidants. Vitamin C and certain other vitamins can reduce the conversion of nitrates and nitrites to nitrosamines.

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