By Sonya Lunder and Dawn Undurraga for Prevention.com
Although scientists and government regulators have long known about the ever-present threat of arsenic in our diet and water, it was unsettling when two major reports came out on the same day last week, reminding us of the risk and the need to do what we can to minimize it.
Yes, arsenic. It’s a naturally occurring mineral with a long history as a murder weapon, and, paradoxically, as a medicine, too. In some parts of the world, contamination levels are so high in food and water as to cause epidemics of skin, bladder, and lung cancer. In the United States, the effects might be harder to see, but they are still there. In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences estimated that people drinking arsenic-contaminated water at 10 parts per billion would have a 1-in-300 risk of developing cancer over their lifetimes. Recent research suggests that people ingest about that much arsenic in a just a half-cup serving of rice, not an unusual amount for millions of Americans.
The two new reports came from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the highly regarded Consumer Reports magazine, and both focused on the worrisome amounts of arsenic in rice and popular rice-based processed foods.
We agree that there’s reason to be concerned. Many rice-based foods and some fruit juices have arsenic levels much higher than are allowed in drinking water. And contrary to some denials from the food industry, the contamination does include the form of arsenic that poses a serious risk to our health. It’s long overdue for federal agencies to set health-protective limits on arsenic in food, but they are not moving quickly.
Keep reading for ten tips on how to reduce your exposure to arsenic in your food…
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