Plant-Based Pregnancy Outcomes and Breast Milk
The composition of breast milk is compared between vegetarian and nonvegetarian women.
Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Randy
Eight-hundred-million pounds of pesticides are used annually in the United States. Human exposure to pesticides may occur by accident. For example, a 1969 dioxin outbreak resulted from a pipe mix-up at a plant that was producing both pesticides and animal feed. People can also be exposed to pesticides via residues on plant food sources: bamboo shoots imported from China had pesticide contamination levels that were over a suggested safety limit. GMO soybeans have significantly higher pesticide residues than organic or conventional non-GMO soy. Also, some plants may contain fecal viruses due to manure contamination of the water used to spray pesticides on crops.
While some plant foods may be contaminated, animal food intake is the biggest source of certain pesticide exposure for both adults and children. Pesticides, as well as antibiotics, manure, pus cells, cholesterol, and saturated fat have all been found in milk. Factory farmed fish have higher levels of DDT and other banned pesticides than wild-caught fish, and even fish oil supplements may be contaminated with PCBs and insecticides. Many pesticides take a long time to degrade – the U.S. made arsenic-based pesticides illegal years ago, but they still persist in the soil. Similarly, though DDT was banned in the U.S. for agricultural use in 1972, people may still be exposed to the pesticide through contaminated dairy products and meat.
Most American women have pesticides and other toxins in their bloodstream. Thus is not surprising since even the U.S. Inspector General found that the USDA was not providing adequate protection from pesticide exposure. Luckily, not all pesticides may be connected to health concerns. For example, the Bt toxin produced by the GMO crop known as Bt corn is a pesticide considered so nontoxic that it is sprayed on organic fruits and vegetables. In other cases, we don’t have enough research to definitively know. The pesticide Roundup has been found to be 100 times more toxic than its active ingredient, glyphosate. Still, due to the lack of truly informative human studies, it is unknown to what degree application of Roundup on is harmful to human health, and we have to be aware of conflicts of interest when reading scientific studies.
On the other hand, some pesticides have been more definitively linked to harmful effects on human health. For example, some pesticides may increase the risk of multiple allergic symptoms, male infertility, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.
Consumers often want organic vegetables and fruits to reduce pesticide intake, and indeed, by eating organic, we can reduce our exposure to pesticides, though it remains unclear whether such a reduction in exposure is clinically relevant. However, if a person cannot get organic produce, the benefits from adequate vegetable and fruit intake may dramatically outweigh any risks of eating conventional produce with residues. Overall, those eating plant-based diets have been found to have a lower levels of pesticides than omnivores. Rinsing produce in a salt water solution may be an effective way to reduce pesticide residues on produce.
The information on this page has been compiled from the research presented in the videos listed. Sources for each video can be found by going to the video’s page and clicking on the Sources Cited tab.
The composition of breast milk is compared between vegetarian and nonvegetarian women.
I go over a case report of water-only fasting, followed by a whole food, plant-based diet for follicular lymphoma.
Fava bean sprouts and soy nuts are put to the test for Parkinson’s disease as natural sources of L-dopa.
How can we avoid the breakdown product of pesticides that may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease as much as if you carried APOE e4, the so-called Alzheimer’s gene?
I quantify the risks of colon and rectal cancers from eating bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausage, and lunch meat.
How did the meat industry, government, and cancer organizations respond to the confirmation that processed meat, like bacon, ham, hot dogs, and lunch meat, causes cancer?
Billion-dollar drugs pulled from the market for carcinogenic contamination less than that found in a single serving of grilled chicken.
Does choosing organic over conventional foods protect against cancer? The effects of pesticides on cancer risk.
More than 95 percent of human exposure to industrial pollutants like dioxins and PCBs comes from fish, other meat, and dairy.
Laboratory models suggest that extreme doses of heme iron may be detrimental, but what about the effects of nutritional doses in humans? A look at heme’s carcinogenic effects.
Why don’t environmental groups advocate climate-friendlier diets?
Dairy consumption is associated with years of advanced ovarian aging, thought to be due to the steroid hormones or endocrine-disrupting chemicals in cow milk.
Why don’t more people take the weight loss medications currently on the market?
The problem with fish advisories that tell pregnant women to cut down on fish is that it may be too late for certain persistent pollutants.
The biggest barrier to reducing toxic pesticides in cannabis is, not surprisingly, the cannabis industry itself.
What are the effects of smoking, pesticides, vaccine mercury, and air pollution on autistic spectrum disorder risk?
Arsenic levels were tested in 5,800 rice samples from 25 countries.
A daily half-cup of cooked rice may carry a hundred times the acceptable cancer risk of arsenic. What about seaweed from the coast of Maine?
What happens when our crops are grown in soil contaminated with arsenic-based pesticides and arsenic drug-laced chicken manure?
What was the National Chicken Council’s response to public health authorities calling for the industry to stop feeding arsenic-based drugs to poultry?
The majority of dietary supplement facilities tested were found noncompliant with good manufacturing practices guidelines.
Should the active ingredient in aspirin be considered an essential vitamin?
The link between Parkinson’s and dairy may not be explained just by the pesticides and lactose.
Neurotoxin contamination of the dairy supply doesn’t explain why the association between Parkinson’s and skim milk consumption is as strong as the disease’s association with whole milk.
Berries counteract the neurotoxic effects of pesticides in vitro, potentially explaining why berry consumption is associated with lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
How much green, white, black, and oolong tea can we consume before the benefits of tea start to be countered by the risks of lead contamination for children, pregnant women, and adults in general?
If we increased our consumption of conventionally-produced fruits and vegetables, how much cancer would be prevented versus how much cancer might be caused by the additional pesticide exposure?
Test tube studies show advantages of organic produce, such as better cancer cell growth suppression, but what about in people, not Petri dishes?
Commercial fruit and vegetable washes fail to work better than tap water, but there is a cheap do-it-yourself solution that may completely eliminate certain pesticide residues.
Organic food consumption appears to reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
There appear to be no consistent differences in the level of vitamins and minerals in organic versus conventionally grown produce, but organic fruits and vegetables have more phenolic phytonutrients.
The hormonal effects of the Roundup pesticide on GMO soy put into perspective.
Higher levels of pesticides on GMO soy is a concern since Monsanto’s Roundup has been shown to have adverse effects on human placental tissue.
Genetically engineered soybeans have significantly higher pesticide residues than organic or conventional non-GMO soy.
So much of the information about genetically modified crops is wrong—on both sides of the debate. What does the best available evidence have to say about the human health implications of Bt corn?
Feed contaminated with toxic pollutants thought to originate from sewer sludge fed to chickens and fish results in human dioxin exposure through poultry, eggs, and catfish.
The relationship between fish consumption and diabetes risk may be due to toxic pollutants that build up in the aquatic food chain.
Arsenic-containing drugs intentionally added to poultry feed to reduce the parasite burden and pinken the meat are apparently converted by cooking into carcinogenic inorganic arsenic compounds.
The levels of arsenic, banned pesticides, and dioxins exceeded cancer benchmarks in each of the 364 children tested. Which foods were the primary sources of toxic pollutants for preschoolers and their parents?
Organic produce may present less of a food safety risk, given the potential contamination of pesticides with fecal pathogens.