Heart to Heart

Processed Foods and Cancer

Did you know how many hotdogs are consumed each day in the United States alone?  Roughly 633 hotdogs are eaten by Americans per second, or 37, 980 every minute, almost 2.3 million an hour.

A Lot of Dogs

According to Janet Riley, president of the National Hotdog and Sausage Council, USA, Americans eat twenty billion hotdogs a year. This does not include those sold at ball games, which is about 30 million during regular pro season.


Hotdogs, also known as franks, are popular because it is inexpensive, convenient to eat, and has lower calories than pizza or hamburger. A hamburger, depending on its size and condiments with it, could provide 350 calories or have as high as 800 to 1,000 calories. A slice of pizza has 272 calories, while hot dog has only 148.

Quality of Food

While calorie-intake is vital to our health, and being appropriately conscious about how much we eat positively impacts our well-being and our longevity, the quality of what we eat is also very important. As they say, we are what we eat.

Processed Foods: Unhealthy

Medical statistics on the relationship of nutrition/diet and health/diseases, and longevity show that a meal with processed foods (canned or frozen, especially meats, like hotdogs, bacon, ham, etc.) is most unhealthy. Eating processed foods has been linked to the development of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, like hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and various forms of cancers, most notably cancer of the pancreas and the gastrointestinal tract.

Foods manufactured are processed to preserve their texture, color, aroma, nutritive value, prevent bacterial growth, and to maximize their “shelf” life. This goes true with either canned or frozen food items. To achieve all these, various strategies are employed. The two common ones are the use of chemical preservatives and additives, and controlled heat sterilization.

What in the processing technique or in the chemical additives and preservatives used is hazardous to health has not been fully determined, but the statistics are too overwhelming to ignore. The association between the illnesses mentioned above and the regular ingestion of processed foods is very significant.

There is no question that FRESH, unadulterated, is best!

Killing us Softly

In general red meats, eggs (the yellow yolk), and other high cholesterol and high fat food items harm our body. The adverse effects on our various organs happen so slowly, taking decades before illnesses and symptoms manifest themselves, that we do not feel sick, or threatened, immediately, and thus continue consuming these great tasting foods regularly. Metaphorically speaking, these foods are slow poisons which are killing us softly. I have elaborated on this issue in my home health book of reference, entitled Let’s Stop “Killing” Our Children, a pre-emptive and proactive primer in disease prevention at the cellular (DNA) level through healthy lifestyle. (www.philipSchua.com)

Healthier Option

The proven healthier alternative is a diet composed of fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, wheat, and other high fiber foods. The high omega 3 contents in fish in general, and the phyto chemicals in vegetables, especially the green leafy ones, and the other anti-oxidant flavanoids in this regimen, are all beneficial in their boosting effects on our immune system, and on their protective action for our cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health. Coupled with controlled carbohydrate and calorie intake, daily physical exercises, and stress management, this gastronomic option is healthier, a life-saver, and one which maximizes people’s potential longevity.

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The Carnitine Craze

Like the snake-oil style scams claiming “the greatness, benefits, and safety” of dozens of so-called food supplements and herbals, which are very expensive, the addition of l-carnitine in drinks and other food items is nothing but false advertisement and public misinformation.

Carnitine is a normal substance in our diet. It is a hydrophilic amino acid derivative, produced in the liver and kidneys, from meat and dairy products we eat. Carnitine allows for the proper metabolism and conversion of fats into energy. We do not need any “extra” carnitine to stay healthy. Our body gets enough from the food we eat daily. To add another chemical substance to our food is totally unnecessary and may even be dangerous.

Primary carnitine deficiency, which is a rare inherited autosomal recessive pattern, affects 1 out of every 40,000 live births in Japan and 1 out of every 37,000 to 100,000 newborns in Australia. It is a congenital defect in babies and very young children but seen in adult very rarely. Primary carnitine in adults is almost unheard of.

In view of available medical facts, why are manufacturers adding l-carnitine to their food products for the general public? Besides, an infant or a child, or even the rare adult, who has this uncommon disorder, would not be helped, much less cure the carnitine deficiency anyway, since the amount added to the food items is not in the therapeutic level.

The inference that the added l-carnitine to the food items in question is beneficial and safe for the consumers is another gimmick these greedy and unscrupulous vendors of ill-will are using to earn a fast buck.

Manufacturers of unproven herbals and the umpteen numbers of “food supplements” on the market today continue to victimize the helpless ignorant consumers. And they obviously do so with impunity because they know they can get away with it.

The more important issue here is, therefore, why our government not enforcing our laws governing truth-in-advertising and other pertinent regulations to protect the public?  #

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is a medical lecturer/author, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: FUN8888.com, philipSchua.com   Email: [email protected]