CHICAGO (CBS) — If you’re driving down the Eisenhower Expressway on the city’s West Side, you might do a double take as you pass a new billboard featuring a dire warning about “butt cancer.”
As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, the billboard has been mounted at 621 S. Kolmar Ave., and is visible from the westbound Eisenhower between the Kostner Avenue and Cicero Avenue exits.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
It warns in red, boldface letters that “Hot Dogs Cause Butt Cancer,” and features a cartoon man wearing a hospital gown, clutching a hot dog in one hand as he turns his head to look at his bottom.
The billboard is the work of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a doctors’ group that promotes a vegetarian lifestyle. The group attempts to linked a high rate of hot dog consumption to a high rate of colorectal cancer in Chicago.
“Chicago is one of the largest consumers of hot dogs nationwide, and hot dog restaurants here are said to outnumber all fast-food restaurants combined,” the group points out. “The Chicago area is home to leading hot dog manufacturers like Kraft Foods, which produces Oscar Mayer franks, Sara Lee, producer of Ball Park Franks, and Vienna Beef.”
Quoting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the group adds that Illinois ranks sixth nationwide for colorectal cancer incidence. Illinois men are also among the most likely in the whole country to contract colon cancer, the group says.
Nationwide, 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year, and more than 50,000 die from it, the group says.
The group goes on to a say “a large number of studies,” including the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition,” have linked processed meat consumption to colon cancer.
“Colon cancer is a killer, and processed meats get much of the blame,” Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine nutrition education director Susan Levin said in a news release. “Many Americans have no idea that eating hot dogs and bacon raises their risk of this deadly disease. Even a few servings of processed meat a week can increase cancer danger.”
The group went on to report that a survey it sponsored showed 39 percent of respondents did not even know what a colon was.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has not won too many friends in the meat industry with their campaigns.
Last year, after a similar bill portraying hot dogs as dangerous was mounted at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Vienna Beef president Jack Bodman said the group was not credible. Bodman said the group’s agenda is to compel people into adopting a vegetarian lifestyle.
“They think that everybody in the world would be better off if they were all vegetarian, and that, while they may feel that way, isn’t really the way the world works,” Bodman told WBBM Newsradio in July.
He called the group’s research “junk science.”
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway billboard showed hot dogs arranged like cigarettes in a pack, and warned that “hot dogs can wreck your health.” Levin said at the time that hot dogs should come with a warning label.
In 2010, the group also made widespread headlines for putting out a menacing showing a deceased man covered by a sheet with a half-eaten hamburger in his hand, followed by the McDonald’s golden arches with the message, “I was lovin’ it.”
That commercial ends with the tagline, “Tonight, make it vegetarian.”