Research found that children who eat more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukaemia.

While another study, found children who ate hot dogs one or more times per week were also at higher risk of brain cancer.

The study examined the relationship between the intake of certain foods and the risk of leukaemia in children from birth to age 10.

It also concluded that there was a strong risk for childhood leukaemia for children whose fathers’ intake of hot dogs was 12 or more per month before conception.

This demonstrated in part that the dietary habits of parents before their child is born, as well as during pregnancy, can leave them more prone to disease.

In fact, researchers Sarusua and Savitz, who studied childhood cancer cases in Denver, found that children born to mothers who consumed hot dogs one or more times per week during pregnancy had approximately double the risk of developing brain tumours.

The Danger Of Hot Dogs

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.

In a survey by Food Standards AU, the major sources of estimated nitrate dietary exposures across different population groups were vegetables (42-78%) and fruits (including juices) (11-30%). Highest concentrations of nitrate were generally found in leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, consistent with other international findings.

Vegetables (44-57%) and fruits (including juices) (20-38%) were also the major contributors to estimated dietary nitrite exposure across the population groups. Nitrite exposure from processed meats accounts for only a relatively small amount of total dietary nitrite exposure (5-7%).

FSANZ found that the concentration of added colours in food in Australia is very low – mostly less than 25% of the maximum permitted levels. Estimated dietary exposure is less than 10% of the ADI, even among high consumers of added food colours.

Food standards Australia say, Australian consumers should be reassured that exposures to nitrates and nitrites in foods are not considered to represent an appreciable health and safety risk. Rather, the health benefits of fruit and vegetables are widely accepted, and eating these foods is recommended as part of a balanced diet.

Cancer Council says, the use of food additives in Australia is regulated by Food Standard Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ).

FSANZ does not approve an additive unless extensive testing has been undertaken and it has been shown that no harmful effects are expected from consumption. For a chemical to be approved it must be demonstrated that it is safe, there are good reasons to use it, it will be used in the lowest possible quantity and that consumers will be clearly informed when it is added (through labelling).

We are certainly not going to rush out and ban hot dogs, but as always make sure you are aware of what is in the foods you feed your children.

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  • I think this story was mainly for the benefit of those in the US. For low income families in the US, Hotdogs are affordible and something that parents can feed their children so that they are not hungry. Here in Australia I would be very surprised if there are the same number of children consuming 12 hotdogs or more a month.


  • Maybe it isn’t but that sounds like a lot of hotdogs to eat in a month !


  • Looks like another thing we’re not meant to be eating. This is all sensationalism if you ask me.


  • Studies like these really bother me because they create a headline. Then when you read through all the details and break it down… it is rare that what they’re suggesting could happen. That is a lot of hot dogs. I don’t know of anybody who eats that many hot dogs. And those I know that may have a hot dog weekly at the footy, have not suffered these effects. And if hot dogs were that bad for normal eating, surely the Food & Safety Guidelines or whichever department would either ban hot dogs or be putting health warnings out there.


  • Thanks goodness we rarely eat hot dogs. My friend’s son has a hot dog in his lunch box daily (even before I knew this I didn’t like the sound of it).


  • We very rarely eat hot dogs but thanks for the information.


  • I think if a childs diet is bad enough that they consume more than 12 hot dogs a month then it is likely so bad that the hot dogs may not actually be the source (or the only source) of the cancer. Eating that many hot dogs would suggest a diet deficient in many areas


  • Well, that’s scary. Luckily we have hot dogs maybe once a year.


  • 12 hot dogs per month is an awful lot?


  • Good advice. More then half of our family is vegetarian (including myself) and will not eat a hotdog. For the non-vegetarians in our house I don’t buy hotdogs.


  • Everything in moderation I believe. For eg a hotdog at a Bunnings shop, a scout fundraiser however, Pete Evans has invented a new paleo hotdog, I think it’s taking away the Aussie tradition but one now & then I feel is quite fine. My hotdog bake which the family/friends & neighbours love.

    • What is a paleo hotdog, it is just meat. Pete Evans cashing in.


  • 12 hot dogs a month! ???? my family don’t really eat them at all but my son may have one in a few months. Sticking to the good old meat and vegies you cant go wrong.


  • Thanks for the information – makes sense now.


  • This must be an American advice :) 12 per month, that’s on average 3 hotdogs per week ! I bet some might eat all 3 hotdogs in one go…
    We all know by now processed meats are not a healthy choice


  • I never had them as a teenager but now I am perimenopausal I get them in the same place on my chin fairly regularly, they are just a nuisance & nothing to be worried about because it is just part of the joys we ladies have to deal with.
    Both my sons had acne in their teens & one so bad it has left scars but it as they have become adults & not dealing with hormonal changes the acne has cleared up.


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