Lesley Kennedy

Arsenic Found in Rice: Is It Dangerous?

Broth-simmered riceMy 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.”


I’ll be waiting for that future research before we stop eating our favorite staple. So, pass the Kung Pao chicken, the kheer and, of course, the pilaf. I’m all over those dishes like white on rice.





3 Responses to “Arsenic Found in Rice: Is It Dangerous?”

  • Lorne Goodale says:

    The worst news about this item is that it is supported by WebMD. There is nothing in this universe that I would buy because it was supported by WebMD.

  • adam says:

    I read the other day that brown rice has higher levels because it is mostly concentrated in the bran, and is unprocessed. I just started eating a lot of rice too, like 2 cups of dry rice per day in a blender to make a rice Quaker Oats-ish energy deal. Now I’m blending lentils, which is probably better anyway :D

  • Does this include brown rice too? What will they find next with our food? It really gets a bit out of hand. Next will be eating just cardboard.

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