Transcript: Dioxins in the Food Supply
Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.
Every five years, our government measures the amount of dioxins in our food supply. Dioxins are toxic waste pollutants spewed out into the atmosphere that accumulate in the fatty tissues of humans, and food animals consumed by humans. The most significant exposure to dioxin-like compounds is thought to be dietary intake of animal and fish products. But which ones are the worst?
Using data from the EPA published last year, is there more toxic waste in beef, cheese, chicken, eggs, fish, lamb, or pork? When you hear toxic waste and diet, the first thing we should think of is fish—and indeed that was by far the worst. But what’s second worst?
Second only to fish in terms of dioxin levels: eggs, with cheese the runner-up. That’s why we’ve got to be careful. If you’re breastfeeding, for example, then you can reduce infant exposure by avoiding fish. But if you replace that fish with some other food group containing chemicals—like the dioxins in dairy products—then you might not be doing your baby any favors. And we now know that eggs have about three times as much as dairy.
This may explain this new study, “Egg Consumption and the Risk of Cancer”, which found that just a half an egg a day or more was associated with about twice the odds of getting mouth cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer, and voice box cancer; three times the odds of getting colon cancer; about twice the odds of rectal cancer and lung cancer; three times the odds of getting breast cancer—just eating a half an egg a day or more. And about twice the odds of prostate cancer, bladder cancer, and all cancers combined.
This is from a study last year that measured the amounts of PCBs, DDT, and other dioxins and pesticides inside people’s bodies. Both male and female, infants, children, teens, adults, and the elderly. The red line represents what the EPA considers to be the level at which there’s significantly increased cancer risk. Was there any age group that exceeded that level? Let’s look at the results: every single age group.
Ten times that benchmark level of PCBs—the red bar, especially in the bodies of young children. And DDT levels right about at that cancer level across the board. How are we still exposed to DDT? Wasn’t it banned decades ago after Silent Spring came out? Yes, but it’s still polluting the environment. As the CDC points out, we’re primarily exposed through meat, fish, and dairy, though, thankfully, the levels in the U.S. continue to decline.
A commentary in a journal called Reproductive Toxicology last year summarized the rather grim situation. Contemporary reproductive-aged women and their offspring are facing an unprecedented onslaught of toxicant exposures from myriad sources in their day-to-day life. And it’s not just cancer we’re worried about.
Increasing evidence suggests that maternal exposure to toxic chemical compounds may be associated with various birth defects, pediatric problems, skewed gender ratios, lethal cancers in children and teens, psychosexual challenges, as well as reproductive and hormonal dysfunction in later life.
The author concludes: “…I anticipate that future generations of scientists will look back with disbelief at a medical culture that permitted poisoning of reproductive aged women and ignored ramifications to unborn children.”
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