(CHICAGO) -- The war against meat continues to grow, most recently with a giant billboard in Chicago that reads, "Hot Dogs Cause Butt Cancer."
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, animal rights and plant-based diets, installed the ad. What they really mean is processed meats have been linked to colorectal cancer, but Susan Levin, nutrition education director at PCRM, said a recent study found that 39 percent of Americans don't even know what the colon (the last part of the digestive tract) is.
The blunt statement makes it easier for laypeople to understand medical jargon that is intended for health professionals, not the average U.S. citizen.
"Processed meats are very closely linked to colorectal cancer," Levin said. "To us, that's unacceptable and it's not a safe food. We see it as our job to get that information out in a way that people can understand and it grabs attention."
But the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, a branch of the American Meat Institute, disagrees.
"The sign is pretty misleading," said Janet Riley, senior vice president of public affairs for the American Meat Institute. "We find this billboard pretty outrageous and alarmist. Hot dogs are part of a balanced diet. "
When it comes to addressing obesity in this country, health officials and consumers need to be aware of the amount of food eaten. The current daily meat recommendation is 5 to 7 ounces per day, Riley said.
But a new Harvard study out Monday revealed that eating a single serving of red meat per day might increased the risk of early death by 13 percent. And, according to the research, a daily serving of processed meat, including one hot dog or two strips of bacon, carried an even greater risk at 20 percent increased risk of early death.
The study comes on the heels of the headline-grabbing "pink slime" frenzy, in which thousands of critics were infuriated by the addition of the low-cost, ammonia-treated beef filler that comes from leftover cuts of meat. It's unclear how much ground beef in the United States contains the ingredient, but some estimate it is as high as 70 percent.
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