Researchers have discovered some troubling news about a popular food we all eat: rice is loaded with cancer-causing inorganic arsenic — so much that they are recommending small children not to eat rice “more than twice per month.”
In findings released yesterday, Consumer Reports
analyzed FDA data on 656 foods containing rice and found noticeable levels of inorganic arsenic, which is linked to different types of cancer.
Arsenic is known to be present in a lot of foods, including fruits, grains and vegetables. They absorb arsenic from the soil and pesticides they are in contact with. However, rice absorbs arsenic more easily than most foods do. Consumer Reports researcher Dr. Michael Crupain explains
“Arsenic in our food is a real public health problem and we think it’s important to eat less of it.”
Long-term exposure to arsenic leads to higher rates of skin, bladder and lung cancers, according to Consumer Reports. For small children under 5 years old, Crupain says:
“We found that hot rice cereal and rice pasta can have much more arsenic than we saw in our previous tests … So we now recommend that children rarely eat these foods, which means not more than twice per month.”
Which rice contains the lowest levels of arsenic?
One of the biggest findings was that the level of arsenic present in rice depends on where it was planted in. Sushi rice (thank God) from the U.S. and white basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan contain half of the amount of arsenic compared to most other types of rice. The deathblow here is to brown rice lovers — researchers found that brown rice actually contains 80 percent more arsenic than white rice.
So should you throw out all your rice?
Before everyone freaks out, the USA Rice Federation said the following in a statement:
“Studies show that including white or brown rice in the diet provides measurable health benefits that outweigh the potential risks associated with exposure to trace levels of arsenic.”
The FDA has yet to set an exact safety level for arsenic in rice, however, they recommend parents to avoid serving rice cereal and rice pasta for their young children as their first solid food.