Arsenic Found in Rice: Is It Dangerous?
My pregnancy diet basically consisted of potatoes, rice dishes, and anything packaged in a container labeled Ben & Jerry’s. So, when I read about a new study that shows rice may contain arsenic levels high enough to pass through the placenta, well, let’s just say I’m glad my birthing days are over.
WebMD reports researchers from Dartmouth Medical School tested arsenic levels in 229 pregnant women and, after eliminating water as a cause, found those who had dined on rice recently showed slightly elevated inorganic arsenic levels, which can be toxic. Previous studies, the website adds, have connected arsenic to miscarriage, lower birth weight and infant mortality risks.
The study goes on to state that eating only one-half cup of rice a day could give you the same level of arsenic as drinking tap water containing the maximum level of the stuff allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to WebMD. Half a cup!? That’s like telling a starch-craving pregnant woman she can only have one Hershey Kiss.
Before you start throwing out the Uncle Ben’s and chucking the Chinese take-out menus, hold on—even the study’s researchers say they’re not sure how much damage rice can actually cause.
“Our study is really about exposure,” Margaret R. Karagas, professor of community and family medicine in epidemiology at Dartmouth Medical School, tells WebMD. “We’re not studying a health outcome. At least in this report. Whether or not this is a health threat is a really big question.”
Guess what the USA Rice Federation has to say? It calls the website “misleading,” noting that the type of arsenic in rice is organic and thought to be “harmless.”