The Cancer Project’s Processed Meats in Schools Report
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Processed Meats in Schools: Putting Children at Risk for Cancer
A Report from The Cancer Project
Approximately 150,000 Americans will develop colon cancer or rectal cancer in 2008, according to the National
Cancer Institute. Colorectal cancer, the fourth most common cancer, will kill nearly 50,000 people this year in the
Consuming processed meats—including hot dogs, pepperoni, bacon, and deli meats—is a key risk factor for this
disease, according to a comprehensive report released late last year by the American Institute for Cancer Research
(AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund. After reviewing all existing data on nutrition and cancer risk, AICR
scientists concluded that processed meats increase one’s risk of colorectal cancer by an average of 21 percent for
every 50 grams of processed meat consumed daily. A 50-gram serving is approximately the size of a typical hot
dog. Because research on processed meats shows cancer risk starts to increase with any portion, the AICR recom-
mends avoiding such products.
As children return to school this fall, how many will be served processed meat products that increase their risk of
colorectal cancer later in life? To determine the prevalence of processed meats in school meals, nutritionists with
the Cancer Project analyzed lunch and breakfast menus at 29 large school districts in 23 states and the District
of Columbia. Nutritionists evaluated one month’s worth of menus from each district. Menus were taken from the
spring semester of 2008.
The Cancer Project’s analysis revealed that processed meats were served to children in every school district. How-
ever, considerable variation exists. Processed meats were relatively rare on menus in Denver and San Francisc