How Chemically Contaminated Are We?

Image Credit: otodo / Flickr. This image has been modified.

Every few years the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measures the levels of chemical pollutants in the bodies of thousands of Americans from across the country. What did the latest report tell us about our toxic burden? Find out in my 2-min. video CDC Report on Environmental Chemical Exposure

The official U.S. Presidential Cancer Panel report from the National Cancer Institute on reducing environmental cancer risk was also released recently. Quoting from the report:

“With the growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the unacceptable burden of cancer resulting from environmental and occupational exposures that could have been prevented through appropriate national action.”

Every year in the United States there are one and a half million new cases of cancer a year striking men, women, and children. Unfortunately, the report concludes:

“the grievous harm from this group of carcinogens has not been addressed adequately by the National Cancer Program. The American people—even before they are born—are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures. The Panel urges you, Mr. President, most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.”

Strong words, but what can we do? They don’t give much dietary guidance. Basically they just say choose organic and free-range:

“Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues. Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications if it is available. Avoiding or minimizing consumption of processed, charred, and well-done meats will reduce exposure to carcinogenic heterocyclic amines and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.”

Of course even without industrial pollutants, the saturated animal fat and cholesterol may still contribute to heart disease (as evidenced by atherosclerosis in mummies of Egyptian rulers who likely ate rich diets).

For a more detailed account of which foods are most contaminated, see Food Sources of PCB Chemical Pollutants and Dioxins in the Food Supply.

My previous videos on organic foods include Can Pesticides Be Rinsed Off? and Cancer Fighting Berries.

I also have videos on livestock growth hormones and feed additives.

For more on processed meat, check out any of my 25 videos on the subject including When Nitrites Go Bad, Bacon and Botulism, and Prevention Is Better Than Cured Meat.

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 – 2015 presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More than an Apple a Day, From Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

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