Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New study focuses on arsenic in rice

New Source: ConsumerReports.org
Date: December 6, 2011
Article: New study focuses on arsenic in rice
Click to read the actual study: Rice consumption contributes to arsenic exposure in US women

Click to read an Environmental Health Perspective from 2007 Food Safety: U.S. Rice Serves Up Arsenic

Its been just over a week since news exploded about arsenic in both organic and non organic apple  and grape juices, and today a new Consumer Reports investigation has come out with an alarming study that found a link between rice consumption and elevated arsenic levels in pregnant women.

It turns out that arsenic is common in foods, but is not regulated in the United States... so there are no limits of how much arsenic is too much.
The study mentions that rice in the US actually has some of the highest levels of  inorganic arsenic in the world (contains an average of 1.4 to 5 times the amount of arsenic found in rice from Europe, India, or Bangladesh.!!).  Inorganic arsenic is known to cause skin, lung and bladder cancer in humans.  The main reason the levels are so high in the US is due to the fact that rice is mostly grown in formally cotton growing states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas who treated cotton with arsenic based pesticides...)

* While there are studies about the effects of high amounts of arsenic (both organic and inorganic) on humans, there are no real studies about the effects of  of low dose over a lifespan... or low dose exposure on the developing fetus and young children.

-The average  American consumes an average of half a cup of rice a day (higher for Latinos and Asians), kids tend to love it and many pediatricians recommend rice cereal as a first food for infants. Rice is eaten directly or  processed into breakfast cereal, rice cakes, package mixes, pet food, and beer. .. so chances are it affects you.

- Elevated arsenic levels are especially scary in pregnant women because this period of fetal development is a period of heightened vulnerability to environmental toxins.  Fetal exposure to arsenic has being linked to problems ranging from low birth weight and infant mortality to hampered immune function and increased death rates from lung cancer later in life. 

-Study mentions that rice grown in the south-central United States had a substantially higher average total arsenic concentration than rice grown in California, so ideally look for rice grown in California or outside of the US.

- BUY ORGANIC RICE?  Since the levels of arsenic were directly related to the soil they were grown in, if the organic rice was grown in contaminated soil it still will have elevated arsenic levels.  The ideal would be organic rice from California, it seems.

- I personally enjoy rice, and don't plan on eliminating it from my diet ... however I will continue to reduce the amount of rice we eat at home (right now we eat it about once a week), continuing to look for other grains such as quinoa.

- Perhaps opt for another first food for your little munchkin, try oatmeal, wheat or barley instead of rice cereal.


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