Arsenic isn’t just thought-about to be a carcinogen; it’s additionally designated as a “nonthreshold carcinogen, meaning that any dose, no matter how small, carries some cancer risk”—so there actually isn’t a “safe” stage of publicity. Given that, it might be affordable to “use the conservative ALARA” strategy, decreasing publicity As Low As Reasonably Achievable.
I’ve a low bar for recommending individuals keep away from meals that aren’t significantly health-promoting within the first place. Remember when that acrylamide story broke, concerning the chemical discovered concentrated in french fries and potato chips? (See my video Acrylamide in French Fries for extra.) My take was fairly easy: Look, we’re undecided how dangerous this acrylamide stuff is, however we’re speaking about french fries and potato chips, which aren’t healthy anyway. So, I had no downside provisionally bumping them from my checklist of yellow-light meals into my red-light checklist, from “minimize consumption” to “ideally avoid on a day-to-day basis.”
One may apply the identical logic right here. Junk meals made out of brown rice syrup, rice milk, and white rice usually are not simply processed meals, but in addition arsenic-contaminated processed meals, so they might belong within the pink zone as red-light meals we should always keep away from. What about one thing like complete brown rice? That is tougher, as a result of there are execs to assist outweigh the cons. I talk about this in my video Is White Rice a Yellow-Light or Red-Light Food?, the place you possibly can see a graphical depiction of my visitors gentle food system at 0:49.
The rice business argues that the “many health benefits of rice consumption outweigh any potential risk,” which is identical sentiment you hear popping out of Japan concerning the arsenic-contaminated seaweed hijiki: Yes, “the cancer risk posed by hijiki consumption exceeds this acceptable [cancer risk] level by a factor of 10,” an order of magnitude, however the Japanese Ministry of Health stresses the “possible health benefits,” comparable to a number of fiber and minerals, as if hijiki was the one weed within the sea. Why not select any of the different seaweeds and get all the advantages with out the arsenic? So, when the rice business says the “many health benefits of rice consumption outweigh any potential risk,” it’s as if brown rice was the one complete grain on the planet. Can’t you get the entire grain advantages with out the dangers by eating oatmeal, barley, or quinoa as a substitute? Or, is there some distinctive profit to rice, such that we actually ought to attempt to maintain brown rice in our eating regimen?
Consumer Reports really helpful transferring rice to the yellow-light zone—in different phrases, don’t essentially keep away from it utterly, however reasonable your consumption. The rice business, in a reality sheet entitled “The Consumer Reports Article is Flawed,” criticized Consumer Reports for warning individuals concerning the arsenic ranges in rice, saying “[t]here is a body of scientific evidence that establishes…the nutritional benefits of rice consumption; any assessment of the arsenic levels in rice that fails to take this information into account is inherently flawed and very misleading.” The rice business cites two items of proof. First, it asserts that rice-consuming cultures are typically more healthy, however is that due to, or regardless of, their white rice consumption? And what about the truth that rice-eating Americans are typically more healthy? Perhaps, however additionally they are likely to eat considerably much less saturated fats. So, as soon as once more, how do we all know whether or not it’s due to—or regardless of—the white rice?
The rice business may have cited the research I talk about at 3:12 in my video that confirmed that brown rice consumption of two or extra servings a week was related to a decrease danger of diabetes, however presumably, the explanation it didn’t is as a result of consumption of white rice is related to an elevated danger of diabetes, and white rice represents 95 p.c of the U.S. rice business. Switching out a third of a serving of white rice a day for brown rice would possibly decrease diabetes danger by 16 p.c, however switching out that very same white rice for complete grains generally, like oats or barley, would possibly work even higher! So, different grains have about ten instances much less arsenic and are related to even decrease illness danger. No surprise the rice business doesn’t cite this research.
It does cite the Adventist research, although, and a few in vitro information. For instance, in a petri dish, as you possibly can see at 4:05 in my video, there are rice phytonutrients that, at better and better doses, can inhibit the expansion of colon most cancers cells whereas apparently leaving regular colon cells alone, which is thrilling. And, certainly, those that occurred to eat these phytonutrients within the type of brown rice as soon as or extra a week between colonoscopies had a 40 p.c decrease danger of growing polyps. (The consumption of inexperienced leafy greens, dried fruit, and beans had been additionally related to decrease polyp incidence.) But, the one purpose we care concerning the improvement of polyps is that polyps can flip into most cancers. But, there had by no means been research on brown rice consumption and most cancers…till now, which I talk about in my video Do the Pros of Brown Rice Outweigh the Cons of Arsenic?.
For these unfamiliar with my visitors gentle system, I speak about it in my guide trailer. Check out How Not to Die: An Animated Summary.
Almost there! This is the corresponding article to the 12th in my 13-video sequence on arsenic within the food provide. If you missed any of the primary 11 movies, see:
Ready for the finale? See Do the Pros of Brown Rice Outweigh the Cons of Arsenic?.
And you might be fascinated by Benefits of Turmeric for Arsenic Exposure.
Michael Greger, M.D.
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