Tag Archives: water

Arsenic in Rice and Long-Term Health Risks

Arsenic in rice has been reported as being of no immediate health risk.  But the major concern with arsenic is that it is a long-term health risk.  Arsenic may be best known as a tool of poisoners.  But arsenic poses greater risk as a slow, quiet inducer of cancer.  In that way, arsenic is like most carcinogens.  The problem is not that someone would eat a bite of rice and then fall face first into his or her plate.  The problem is that arsenic causes skin and bladder cancer.  It also does other unpleasant things to people who are exposed to relatively low levels over long periods of time.

Arsenic in Rice and Arsenic in Drinking Water

Arsenic in rice and drinking water
Arsenic in rice may add to cancer risk.  Photo by Reuters

The current limit for arsenic in drinking water is 10 parts arsenic for every billion parts of water.  If you are an average adult drinking two liters of water you could get about 20 micrograms of arsenic.  As long as your drinking water meets federal standards.  If you drink more than two liters of water your will probably be just fine.  If you get more than 20 micrograms of arsenic every day you will probably be fine too.  Federal standards have built in safety factors.  These protect people who are not average 160 pound adults. Who drink two liters of water a day.  If people are exposed to additional arsenic in rice on a regular basis in addition to arsenic in water they may face increased risk of cancer.  The man in the photo on the right lives in an area where arsenic in drinking water greatly exceeds World Health Organization standards.

Should I worry about Arsenic in Rice?

Maybe.  Arsenic in rice may increase your risk of cancer.  Especially if you live in an area where arsenic levels in drinking water are high.   Or if you are feeding rice to infants or very young children.   Infants and young children tend to rely on only a few types of food.  If you are a heavy rice eater you should add some other grains to your diet.  The best way to protect yourself from contaminants in food is to eat a varied diet.  And not depend too heavily on any one food type.  To find out if you live in an area where arsenic in drinking water is a high take a look at the map below.  Keep in mind that if you live in a high-arsenic area your community drinking water may be less if it is treated.   If you live outside the US you can probably find a map for your country online.  Keep in mind too that arsenic levels in rice will vary.  The amount of arsenic in rice will depend on how much arsenic was in the ground and water at the growing site.

Arsenic in Rice Arsenic in Drinking water
USGS Map of Arsenic Concentrations in drinking water.


Estrogen Activity Free or BPA Free Water Bottles?

What is the difference between BPA-free and Estrogen Activity Free?

Estrogen is a hormone.  Hormones are chemical signals produced by living things.  Hormones tell far-flung body parts what needs to be done.  In females, estrogen is important in breast development, reproduction and in maintenance of healthy tissue.  Too much can increase risk of breast cancer.  Too much estrogen during fetal development can harm a developing baby.  Estrogenic compounds are also used in birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, and to treat prostate cancer in men.

There has been a lot of research on BPA.  BPA is a plastic additive that resembles estrogen.  The body thinks it is estrogen and reacts to it similarly. The battles over whether or not BPA is harmful continue.  Added to those are the marketing of BPA-free and estrogen-activity free plastic products.  BPA-free is not necessarily the same thing as estrogen-free.  Substituting something else for BPA that still activates estrogen receptors is not going to help anyone very much.

BPA-free or Estrogen Activity Free?

You can get BPA-free products pretty easily now.  But you should be looking for estrogen activity free products.

Phytoestrogens, BPA and Estrogenic Chemicals.

Unfortunately plastics are not the only source of estrogenic chemicals.  Estrogenic compounds are now frequently found in water supplies.  Possibly from pharmaceuticals in sewage.  Such pharmaceuticals include birth control pills.  Pharmaceutical estrogens have been found in waterways at concentrations that appear to alter the development of fish.

Phytoestrogens are estrogenic compounds found in plants.  A correlation between intake of plants high in phytoestrogens and behavioral changes in male monkeys was just published in the journal Hormones and Behavior.  That is interesting because most concerns with estrogenic compounds and behavior have focused on exposures that occurred to offspring while their mothers were pregnant.  Many of these studies found an increase in aggressive behavior in females.  Maybe the ban on drinking and driving should include a ban on drinking from plastic bottles.

Bottom line: if you are going to use plastic look for plastic that has been certified as Estrogen Activity Free.

Watergeeks makes certified Estrogen Activity Free products.  Target carries them.  If you are more upscale than that you can also get them at Neiman-Marcus. (No, we are not watergeek affiliated, we just like the Estrogen Activity free stuff.  And you can get bottles with a built in filter.  And you can get bottles that are just not plastic).