Doctor's Note

In Cannibalistic Feed Biomagnification I explore how many pollutants can creep up the food chain. A similar array of foods is contaminated with other industrial pollutants. See Food Sources of PCB Chemical Pollutants, Dioxins in the Food Supply, and the NutritionFacts.org video-of-the-day on Monday, Food Sources of Flame Retardant Chemicals. Which fish is most contaminated? See Farmed Fish vs. Wild-Caught. In addition to eating as low as possible on the food chain, choosing organic can reduce our families' pesticide exposure. See, for example, Can Pesticides Be Rinsed Off?

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Protecting Our Babies From Pollutants Countering Dietary Pollutants & PesticidesApple Peels Turn On Anticancer Genes, and Fukushima Radiation and Seafood

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  • http://nutritionfacts.org/ Michael Greger M.D.

    In Cannibalistic Feed Biomagnification I explore how many pollutants can creep up the food chain. A similar array of foods is contaminated with other industrial pollutants. See Food Sources of PCB Chemical Pollutants, Dioxins in the Food Supply, and the NutritionFacts.org video-of-the-day on Monday, Food Sources of Flame Retardant Chemicals. Which fish is most contaminated? See Farmed Fish vs. Wild-Caught. In addition to eating as low as possible on the food chain, choosing organic can reduce our families’ pesticide exposure. See, for example, Can Pesticides Be Rinsed Off?
     
    If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

    • DT

       It is incorrect that animal products are the only dietary source for various chemicals. For example, in the following study from Spain the main source for PCNs are (1) oils and fats (olive, sunflower,margarine) (2) cereals.

      http://www.saveva.com/domamAcsa/pub/acsa/html/ca/dir1538/dn1538/pcn03.pdf

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shane-Jackson/1135727622 Shane Jackson

        He doesn’t state that animal products are the only dietary source for chemicals/pesticides. The video clearly states that even pristine mountain peak snow is contaminated so clearly everything in the world has potential contamination. He then also clearly states that the best one can do is eat as low on the food chain as possible and preferably organic.

        • DT

           He claim that animal products are far worse than plants. As I wrote below, this may not be true.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=666366687 Stephen Lucker Kelly

            It is obviously true. But the best thing to do is to is eat organic. There are more fat cells for pollution to be stored in. Plants don’t have as many. As for oil… that would be due to pesticides been sprayed on plants which get mixed in with the food same with crops, which is cereals. Again eating organic would also stop this. The plants themselves would be less polluted if people where not spraying substances on them. Which means get organic oils and organic cereals.

          • Joe

            It is clear that animals are not the only source – if they were then he would have not recommended eating organic. However, bioaccumulation is not a problem in plants because they don’t eat each other! Oil is an interestng one – it also represents a concentration of the most polluted cells.

            Another interesting point is that we need to eat a lot more plants to get the same calories – but based on what I have read I still think plants are by far the safest eating choice.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1268850618 Devin Wiesner

        Hey DT, thanks for pointing this out.  Your comment spurred me to research this issue further.  At first I tried to figure out why the oil and fat samples showed such a high quantity of PCNs.  I did not find a satisfactory answer.  

        I did, however, find a subsequent study (published 5 years later) by the same author of the study that you cited.  In this more recent study, the PCN and PCDE concentration in oils and fats appear to be significantly lower than Fish and Seasfood and lower than his previous study from 2003.  Perhaps the author utilized improved sampling methods?  Check out Table #2 in the 2008 study, Fish and Seafood averages 1094.7 ngs/kg versus 8.3 ngs/kg for oils and fats. wow!

        2008 Study:
        http://www.gencat.cat/salut/acsa/html/ca/dir1538/cont_quim2010/marti-est08-pcn-pcde.pdf

        • DT

          1. You are looking at the wrong table. PCN concentrations are in table 1: 47.1 for fish 21.5 for oils. 3rd place goes for bakery products: 15.3.

          2. Comparison by concentrations per kg is not “fair” (such comparison is made on the October 29th video). A more fair comparison is concentrations per calorie.
          For example, in the study above, meat was 2.8 ng/kg, while vegetables were 2.3. However, the meat has 5-10 times more calories than vegetables per calorie, so if you compute concentrations per calorie, vegetables are far worse than meat.

          3. The reason for the differences between the studies is that there is large variability in chemical concentrations. Even if you take two fish of same specie bought in the same place, you will get different results. This is claims like “White meat is more contaminated that red” which Dr. Greger gave in the video based on one study are wrong.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1268850618 Devin Wiesner

            I looked at both tables and agree with your findings in table 1, I was just pointing out that for other dioxin like  chemicals  (PCDEs in table 2) massive quantities were detected in seafood and relatively little in oils and your first comment pertained to oils and fats.  

            Your point regarding calories is certainly valid and the charts that Doctor Greger cites (beginning at 44 seconds) concurs with your point.  Personally, I don’t eat meat because there are so few micronutrients, so few beneficial chemicals in meat.  So I don’t even consider eating meat.

            Regardless I think we would both agree to advise our families and friends to avoid seafood because of the extremely high levels of PCNs and PCDEs detected.  That’s my  major takeaway from this.

          • Joe

            I think theres a very interesting point that you raised: plants usually contains a far higher density of chemicals (per calorie) that help our bodies get rid of these toxins. That also has to be a consideration given the widespread pollution around today.

  • Jo

    Does using a veggie wash help? I had to convince my boyfriend that he needed to wash his fruits and veggies with a proper veggie wash solution (Whole Foods brand).

    He was deeply against it because plants can soak up and absorb the solution. What should we do when there organic isn’t available?

    • WholeFoodChomper

      Here is what the EWG had to say about washing fruit and veggies to rid them of toxins: “EWG has not evaluated various produce washes for efficacy or potentially toxicity. However, since some plants absorbed pesticides systemically, a produce wash would have limited effect. The safest choice is to use the Shopper’s Guide™ to avoid conventional versions of those fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residues.” (http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/fa

      Also, Dr. Fuhrman (in _Eat for Health_) states: “The large number of studies performed on the typical pesticide-treated produce have demonstrated that consumption of produce, whether organic or not,is related to lower rates of cancer and increased disease protection. In short, it is better to eat fruits and vegetables grown and harvested using pesticides than not to eat them at all.” (p.182) He goes on to say that one can decrease their pesticide exposure from food by about 90%, if one eats the 12 most contaminated foods in their organic forms.

      • Jo

        Thank you! The link showed incorrectly, but it was easy to figure out the page you wanted to reference. Will still use my veggie wash — have seen clear water turn brown from washing grapes — in the meantime for all plant foods.

        Fifty-seven pesticides on celery? Madness! See: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews and http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary y’all.

        Thanks again!

        • WholeFoodChomper

          You are most welcome. Sorry, about the broken link. Sometimes Disqus cuts urls off, not sure why.  Still, glad that you could access the EWG info. 

        • http://jolkapolkaskitchen.blogspot.com/ WholeFoodChomper

          You are most welcome. Sorry, about the broken link. (I think I fixed it.) Sometimes Disqus cuts urls off, not sure why. Still, glad that you could access the EWG info.

      • beccadoggie10

        In other words, it’s better to eat organic produce given a choice, when dealing with the most contaminated produce.
        But, if you want farmers to change from spraying or treating produce with lots of various toxic chemicals, create a bigger market for organic agriculture. Remember, it’s not just the food that is contaminated, it is also the soil in which the food is grown (the dust that enters homes, businesses, schools and hospitals), the surface and groundwaters, not to mention the rainwater. USGS found that it’s raining pesticides down wind from where heavy agricultural areas are located. They tested precipitation in Mississippi and Iowa and found vast amounts of agricultural chemicals being cleansed from the sky by the precipitation and falling back to earth.
        Change does not happen if we continued to purchase toxic agriculture!

        • http://jolkapolkaskitchen.blogspot.com/ WholeFoodChomper

          Most definitely, if possible, organic is best.

  • Myjolina

    I am also interested if washing our vegetables will help – after this video it would seem that even the organic vegetables need to be washed.  But, after watching this video – what do we wash them with?

    • beccadoggie10

      I use a few drops of grapefruit seed extract into a large bowl of water. But, I’ve also read that vinegar and water with 4 parts water to one part white vinegar removes the surface bacteria and some of the pesticides.

      Since many pesticides are systemic and go all the way in to the seed, you cannot remove them all. But, anything that can be reduced if better than nothing.
      Remember, go to:
      http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/ to find the foods lowest in pesticides. The higher the number, the lower the pesticides; the lower the number, the higher the pesticides.

  • Thea

    My thoughts on washing:  Washing plants is certainly a good idea for a variety of reasons, but there is no way to get rid of the chemicals completely.  If the chemicals are truly in the (rain) water itself, then the chemicals are going to be in the very cells of plants since water is used as the plant grows.  This would be true of organic plants too. 

    HOWEVER, since the chemicals get more concentrated the more you move up the food chain (and possibly the more processed a food is?) and since at least with organic, the “farmers” are not directly spraying the chemicals on the food or ground itself, you are doing the best you can to avoid the chemicals when you eat low on the food chain and eat organic. It is especially helpful to eat whole plants (as opposed to say “fats”, which were on the pie chart and which I assume mean processed products like canola and margarine).

    So, yes, wash your veggies.  You will hopefully get surface contaminants (of all kinds, not just chemicals) off your veggies.  (I don’t know about using water vs the veggie washes.)  But even with washing, don’t think that you are home-free.  In my less than humble opinion, we should all try to support efforts to remove these chemicals from any kind of use all over the planet, because they affect everyone even if we eat only 100% organic plants, which can be hard to do.

    Note that this is just my opinion based on the information given in this video.  I do not have any specific research to back it up.

    • JohnC

      The problem with “organic” is your food may be grown in industrial wastes from non-organic factory farms. It is legal for “organic” farms to utilize fertilizer from non-organic sources, such as poultry manures, bone and blood meal, etc.. They may have even been sprayed with liquid wastes.
      This loophole in the organic standard is a huge flaw and creates the risk of consumer exposure to the same chemicals, such as arsenic, found in non-organic sources, along with other biohazards (c. diff., prions, etc.).
      Get to know your farmer, seek veganic, or grow your own.

      • beccadoggie10

        It’s still better to eat organic veggies and fruit than eating genetically modified which resist herbicides and other pest controls. This is because the farmers are encouraged, or demanded by Monsanto to repeatedly spray their fields for weeds with the corporations pesticides. Plus, Monsanto, Dow Agrosciences and other biotech-pesticide companies are now using recombinant DNA to engineer in triplicate soy and corn –this will be expanded to other produce as well, all to withstand three equally toxic herbicides so that they say continually spray over and over again to kill every last weed and possibly everthing in their way. At the same time, they’ve lobbied Congress to weaken the Clean Water standards with regard to non-point source pollution (and agriculture runoff). Don’t know if we lost or won.

        I only buy organic now. My mouth becomes inflamed and swollen when I eat pesticide food. I’m stockpiling seeds washed and dried from the organic produce with the hope that my spine will get stronger so I can plant a raised bed.

    • beccadoggie10

      Soy, corn, cotton, canola, and sugar beets are all genetically engineered with a bacterium or virus so Monsanto can sell more toxic herbicides including Roundup. But, since many weeds have become immune to Roundup, Monsanto and the other biotechnology companies are genetically engineering seeds like soy in triplicate so it can resist glyphosate (active ingredient in Roundup), Dicamba, and 2,4-D in the case of one biotechnology-pesticide giant. Or, Monsanto will be pairing their crops with glufosinate, glyphosate, and dicamba.
      Cotton seed oil is part of vegetable oil, and is one of the most heavily “treated” crops with chemical herbicide, insecticides, fungicides, adjuvants, and other “economic poisons” in America and increasingly in the world thanks to recombinant DNA.
      Livestock are fed recombinant DNA soy and corn –both heavily sprayed with 2,4-D, glyfosate, and dicamba or glufosinate. Two of these pesticides are contaminated with dioxins; 2,4-D is contaminated with 2,3,7,8-TCDD, the most toxic dioxin known to mankind and unintentionally created. Dicamba also contains dioxin, as a contaminate. Glufosinate is known to cause heart disease in dogs. Since dogs get some of the same diseases people receive, I wonder if glufosinate can also cause heart disease in people?
      This is a good reason for having a whole house carbon water filter if you live in agricultural areas, AND eating both organically grown foods plus eating vegan. avoiding dairy, meat, and fish because dioxins accumulate and concentrate in the fatty tissue of animals and animal proteins and fatty tissues.
      Also fight back. Support the right to know of Genetically Modified Organisms in food or mandatory labeling of GMO’s in food. When the California ballot initiative returns in 2013, help by sending money to the Yes ballot initiative. I helped fund Proposition 37 even though I don’t live in California and cannot vote. Unfortunately, I did not have enough money nor did the right to know campaign. But, if we all helped, we could make a difference.
      61 countries in the world have mandatory labeling and the right to know if the food they eat contains GMO’s. Some countries have activists that will not let GMO crops and livestock from the USA come into their country and very little GMO’s are planted. Whereas in the USA, over 85 percent of food in grocery stores is recombinant DNA with foreign organisms to resist more herbicides or other pesticides.
      It’s our health and that of our children. With the right to know we can fight back and win. Without it, we’ll die a faster death.

  • Snap

    What is in the the “fats” category?

    • beccadoggie10

      Dioxins, furans, PCBs, organochlorines can all accumulate and concentrate in fats, especially animal fats. When we eat those animals, being the top of the food chain, we get all that the animal has eaten and more because it is concentrated in its body. And, when we have children, those toxins go into the unborn, or through breast milk. However, breast milk is still the best food for babies. Under no circumstances should new parents buy readily available processed breast milk, which is recombinant DNA –genetically engineered with a foreign organism from another species and may poison your baby.
      Likewise, Horizon Dairy, while labeled organic is genetically engineered with an organism from another species. The reason. We have a corrupt government. This was allowed during the Bush-Cheney administration and continues under Obama.

      • http://jolkapolkaskitchen.blogspot.com/ WholeFoodChomper

        Very interesting information, Could you please share some sources or links to this info? I’d like to read up on it some more.

      • beccadog

        I don’t know where to start. I have attended Scientific Assemblies and conferences since the early 1990′s, subscribed to newsletters, tracked down information in university libraries over the decades. Articles referred back to studies submitted to the USEPA. Most studies are gone because of posturing by the Bush-Cheney administration, who allowed vested corporations to eliminate any study they did not like and as a result, the studies disappeared and even the studies at the National Library of Congress have disappeared along with regulations on pesticides and other industrial poisons. Bush and Cheney closed the libraries for the US EPA. No one knows what happened to the studies. Perhaps, they were shredded. My source was Public Employees Environmental Responsibility, but the information is no longer online.

        I would suggest you start by reading a book written for laypersons: Our Stolen Future, first published by Dutton,
        Peguin Books (NY) in 1996 (ISBN 0-525-93982-2). Also, go to the home of OurStolenFuture.org and start opening links. The book explains much of what I’ve learned from these scientists and from others. Amazon has the paperback version for $10.53.

        After you have read through the ourstolenfuture web site and followed their links, which may take quite some time, updates are available at: http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/

        For example,

        Persistent pollutants slow the time to pregnancy in couples.
        http://tinyurl.com/cu5n39h

  • Cooper Walter

    Great video as always, Dr. Greger.

    I was wondering, have the levels of toxins you’ve been discussing in this the previous videos been shown to cause damage? What I’m essentially asking is, should we be worried these low levels of toxins? Thanks in advance.

    • beccadoggie10

      Low levels of some environmental toxins, like dioxins, are extremely toxic in parts per quadrillion. To make matters worse, dioxin is invisible, odorless and tasteless. It is extremely expensive to test. What’s the danger with dioxins, even at low levels?

      “More girls than boys are born in some Canadian communities because airborne pollutants called dioxins can alter normal sex ratios, even if the source of the pollution is many kilometres away, researchers say.

      Dioxin exposure has been shown elsewhere to lead to both higher cancer rates and the birth of more females…”

      “Researchers at the IntraAmericas Centre for Environment and Health say their findings, released this month, confirm the phenomenon in Canada…The study also reveals the health risks of living within 25 km of sources of pollution — a greater distance than previously thought, they said.”

      Source: DIOXINS CAN ALTER NORMAL SEX RATIOS FOR BIRTHS By Jonathan Spicer, Reuters, October 25th, 2007, http://tinyurl.com/c4samcb
      Study available at: http://www.precaution.org/lib/dioxins_and_sex_ratio.2.071015.pdf