Questionable food choices at community barbecue

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How can Northwest Community Health Center host a community barbecue featuring hot dogs which are ranked alongside cigarettes and asbestos as known carcinogens according to the World Health Organization?

In 2015, 22 scientists examined the association between more than 16 types of cancer and the consumption of red and processed meat in 800 epidemiological studies from the United States, Europe, Japan, Australia and elsewhere. The scope covered multiple ethnicities and global diets, according to a report published in the journal Lancet Oncology. The WHO group “classified consumption of processed meat as ‘carcinogenic to humans’ on the basis of sufficient evidence for colorectal cancer.” Colorectal cancer is the second most lethal form of cancer in the U.S., causing nearly 50,000 deaths per year. Processed meat was also linked to a higher incidence of stomach cancer. Consumption of red meat was also positively associated with pancreatic and with prostate cancer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer keeps a list of compounds or activities with suspected, probable and definitive links to cancer, with each possible item falling into a designated grouping based on whether or not it causes cancer.

Hot dogs now falls into “group 1,” meaning it ranks as high as tobacco smoking and asbestos exposure in terms of causing cancer. Red meat lands in “group 2A” with inorganic lead.

Barbecuing generally produces the highest amounts of the chemicals responsible for cancer, the report states.

Since this report was widely reported in newspapers and magazines two years ago, it’s hard to understand how an organization allegedly devoted to health is serving the very foods which cause cancer.

—James A. Peden

Troy

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