More Arsenic Scares

More Arsenic Scares

It seemed like just yesterday that people were criticizing Dr. Oz for causing an unnecessary stir over arsenic levels in juice. Now, it looks like everywhere you turn, there are more reports of dangerous levels of arsenic in everyday foods.

According to a Consumer Reports investigation into grape juice and apple juice:

  • Roughly 10 percent of our juice samples, from five brands, had total arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards. Most of that arsenic was inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen.
  • One in four samples had lead levels higher than the FDA’s bottled-water limit of 5 ppb. As with arsenic, no federal limit exists for lead in juice.
  • Apple and grape juice constitute a significant source of dietary exposure to arsenic, according to our analysis of federal health data from 2003 through 2008.
  • Children drink a lot of juice. Thirty-five percent of children 5 and younger drink juice in quantities exceeding pediatricians’ recommendations, our poll of parents shows.
  • Mounting scientific evidence suggests that chronic exposure to arsenic and lead even at levels below water standards can result in serious health problems.
  • Inorganic arsenic has been detected at disturbing levels in other foods, too, which suggests that more must be done to reduce overall dietary exposure.

Now a new Dartmouth Medical School study has found that rice also contains potentially toxic levels of arsenic. The study, which was conducted on 229 pregnant women, found that the ones who consumed a half cup of rice per day had higher levels of total arsenic and inorganic arsenic in their urine. It was approximately the equivalent to drinking a liter of water with the maximum level of legally allowed arsenic.

Arsenic occurs naturally in the environment, but can be manmade as inorganic arsenic. Although any ill effects of the arsenic in rice and juice haven’t been proven, prolonged exposure to arsenic has been linked to higher instances of skin, lung and bladder cancers as well as cardiovascular disease.

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