Dioxins in the Food Supply

Dioxins in the Food Supply
5 (100%) 3 votes

Which foods accumulate the highest levels of industrial toxins?

Discuss
Republish

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.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

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.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

30 responses to “Dioxins in the Food Supply

Commenting Etiquette

The intention of the comment section under each video and blog post is to allow all members to share their stories, questions, and feedback with others in a welcoming, engaging, and respectful environment. Off-topic comments are permitted, in hopes more experienced users may be able to point them to more relevant videos that may answer their questions. Vigorous debate of science is welcome so long as participants can disagree respectfully. Advertising products or services is not permitted.

To make NutritionFacts.org a place where people feel comfortable posting without feeling attacked, we have no tolerance for ad hominem attacks or comments that are racist, misogynist, homophobic, vulgar, or otherwise inappropriate. Please help us to foster a community of mutual respect. Enforcement of these rules is done to the best of our ability on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on industrial toxins. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

    And check out my associated blog post EPA dioxin limit has National Chicken Council worried products could be declared “unfit for consumption”.




    0



    0
    1. i have two questions:
      1)i eat only egg whites (not egg beaters, but pure egg whites) by so doing am i still exposed to same dioxins that you are talking about?
      2) by eating pure egg whites am i still exposed to the same amount of cholesterol that i would be consuming eating a whole egg?

      i do not use facebook so please respond by email
      thanks
      mike
      mikehousemd@yahoo.com




      0



      0
      1. Mike: Egg whites do not have any cholesterol. However, just like the yolks, egg whites come with significant health risks. There are two problems with eggs, the yolk and the white. (To paraphrase Dr. Barnard.)

        According to Wikipedia, here’s what’s in egg beaters:
        “”Egg Beaters is primarily egg whites with added flavorings, vitamins, and thickeners xanthan gum and guar gum. It contains no egg yolks.”

        Since egg beaters do not have egg yolks, the cholesterol issue is not in play. But egg whites are just as bad for you. Dr. Barnard talks about the problems that animal protein presents for kidney health. Other experts talk about the (strong in my opinion) link between animal protein and cancer. The question scientists then want to answer is: Is there a causal link? If so, what is the mechanism by which animal protein might cause cancer?

        If memory serves, Dr Campbell in The China Study mentions several ways in which we think that animal protein causes and promotes cancer. Here on NutritionFacts, you can get a great education on how animal protein is linked to the body’s over-production of a growth hormone called IGF-1. IGF-1 helps cancer to grow. To watch the series about IGF-1, click on the link below and then keep clicking the “next video” link on the button to the right until you get through the bodybuilding video. Then you will have seen the entire series.
        http://nutritionfacts.org/video/igf-1-as-one-stop-cancer-shop/

        And Darryl recently reminded me about the methionine issue. Egg whites have *the* highest concentration of methionine of any food:
        http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000084000000000000000.html?categories=1,18,9,0,13,14,5,4,42,16,17,15,6,3,2,11,7,19,21,12,10,8,22
        Dr. Greger did a nice video showing the link between methionine and cancer. So, there are two clear pathways linking animal proteins, especially egg whites, to cancer.
        http://nutritionfacts.org/video/starving-cancer-with-methionine-restriction/

        Darryl also pointed out that, “…high methionine diets increase coronary risk in humans. In its associations with cardiovascular disease and other disorders, homocysteine may be functioning partly as a marker for the major culprit, excess methionine.”
        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0939475305001092

        And while I can’t find it right now, I believe that Toxins has pointed out two other health issues with egg whites.

        With all of the information we have about the harmful effects of animal protein in general and egg white in particular, I think it’s best to stay away from egg white. Why not get your protein from safe sources? Sources which are known to have lots of positive health effects and will naturally give you a balanced amount of protein? (ie: whole plant foods) Make sense?




        0



        0
    2. Dr. Greger, thank you much for the video. What do OR and CI stand for in the report? (Trying to understand OR=2.02, 95% CI: 1.19-3.44.)




      0



      0
  2. I wanted to ask Dr Greger, is he aware of any studies of the toxic content of non-industrial meats? I and my family eat lots of free-range eggs, range chicken, heritage pork, and grass-fed beef, all from farmers whom I know and trust. I feel noticeably worse when I lapse and eat factory-farmed chicken. Also, I recall a study by Mother Earth News showing much higher nutritional content of truly free-range eggs. http://www.motherearthnews.com/eggs.aspx So I believe we’re doing the right thing.

    But I would like to know if any empirical analysis has been attempted on meats and animal-based foods that were raised the way our grandparents raised animals?




    0



    0
  3. When I first ‘became acquainted’ with dioxin (late 1970s) I recall that there were several chemicals in this group… and the one which attracted the most concern was “TCCD” dioxin. Is that still the case? Does the government study distinguish between the various compounds? Are we more likely to encounter certain ones?
    I appreciate having this info accessible. Thanks! ^..^




    0



    0
    1. You are correct that several chemicals in the group and they have different toxic effects. When they enter the environment most commonly from burning of waste they enter as a mixture. So each chemical is measured and multiplied by its toxic equivalency factor to estimate the overall effect. The estimated half life of these substances in the human body has been estimated at between 1 to 7 years. These estimates are based on studies done in cases of large industrial exposures. So you will encounter a variety in the environment but the exposure for those on a plant based diet is only about 2% of those on the standard american diet. Complicated area… take home message… the best approach is a whole food plant based diet. The good news is the amount in the environment is decreasing.. the bad news the amount of other chemicals like flame retardants is going up. See other videos including http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/flame-retardant-chemical-contamination-2/




      0



      0
    1.  Mikala, I can’t speak for Dr. G but it seems that vegan sources (no meat, dairy or eggs…the rest of this website and the website of PCRM have lots of info on vegan diets) help avoid most of it. I’ve found this chart on the web:

      http://www.ejnet.org/dioxin/dioxininfood.gif

      As you can see the lowest bar is the one marked “vegan diet”




      0



      0
  4. Dr. Greger – very much a wake-up call, alarming…but I have two questions

    1. The graph at 2:12 is alarming, but is there a graph you can show us that shows the answers for vegan populations (or even not by age group but just overall)?

    hopefully lower graphs but how much are we exposed to from other sources, I don’t know..(of course a more careful analysis would grade into several levels, depending on how many years vegan or maybe how many years non-vegan that person has eaten in their life so far, and show us the average for each such catetory)

    2. I remember as clearly as yesterday reading this in 1999 on BBC, just google for “British breast milk ‘highly contaminated'” It reads in part,

    “British babies fed on breast milk could be receiving as much as 40 times
    World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended levels of a wide range of
    potentially harmful chemicals, says a report.

    “The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says more than 350 man-made
    pollutants have been identified in the breast milk of women in the UK. These include 87 dioxins, the poison which sparked the recent…”

    Dr Greger – What’s the update in 2012, 13 years later, surely we know more?

    I even tried to contact WWF about two years ago but got not reply from the one source I tried. Has the research during 1999-2012 confirmed, or strengthened, or weakened, the worries about, confirmed or contradicted the amounts, etc? Or have virtually no studies been done in the past 13 yeas (which would be shocking but shocking things happen in terms of what’s studies and what’s not studied..)




    0



    0
  5. What about farm animals that are fed organic feed? I’m thinking that synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, etc cannot be used for organic crops, but crops could be contaminated by chemicals in the atmosphere just like conventional crops? For that matter, so can the organic produce, grains, etc that we purchase?
    Thank you for all this wonderful information and for making it accessible to everyone and anyone. Louisa




    0



    0
    1. The major health issues seen with animal products is independent of whether the meat is organic or conventional. Red meat that is grass fed still contains trans fat http://nutritionfacts.org/video/trans-fat-saturated-fat-and-cholesterol-tolerable-upper-intake-of-zero/ , it still causes increased levels of IGF-1 http://nutritionfacts.org/video/protein-intake-and-igf-1-production/ and it still causes endotoxemia
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-leaky-gut-theory-of-why-animal-products-cause-inflammation/ .




      0



      0
  6. Hi Dr. Gregor, I love your website. Thank you so much for all your efforts. I was wondering where that graph comes from, the one that was from last year’s study where they tested the levels of 4 different toxins in humans by age group. I don’t think it was from the articles listed in your references, and I couldn’t find it when I searched pubmed. I just was wondering what country that study took place in and was hoping to get the reference. Thank you!!




    0



    0
    1. The “fact” sheet you referenced correctly states that the air emissions have gone down and our exposure is “low” level. Unfortunately dioxin family is the most carcinogenic substance known so even low levels are not good. They have a long half life in the body of up to 7 years. By going plant based you can reduce your exposure to as low as possible while allowing the body to rid itself of the dioxins that have built up in your body if you have been eating the standard american diet or vegetarian with dairy/eggs.




      0



      0
  7. I have recently switched to a plant based diet. I’m loving it and my health has improved significantly, but I worry that I may be consuming large amounts of pesticides. I can’t source exclusively organic veg, but I do wash everything before cooking / eating. Is this enough? Is there a way of washing veg that has been shown to be most effective?




    0



    0
    1. me8932: Congratulations on switching to the healthiest human diet on the planet!

      I have heard your concern from other people before. While I don’t have an answer to your exact question, I hope the following thoughts will ease your fears:

      Dr. Greger has a great blog post where he puts pesticide consumption into perspective. :
      “A new study calculated that if half the U.S. population ate just one more serving of conventional fruits and vegetables, 20,000 cases of cancer could be prevented. At the same time the added pesticide consumption could cause up to 10 extra cancer cases. So by eating conventional produce we may get a tiny bump in cancer risk, but that’s more than compensated by the dramatic drop in risk that accompanies whole food plant consumption. Even if all we had to eat was the most contaminated produce the benefits would far outweigh any risks.”

      from: http://nutritionfacts.org/2013/06/25/apple-peels-turn-on-anticancer-genes/
      I translate this bit of info into: Eat organic when you can, but don’t stress about it when you can’t.
      Happily, there is a way to take this advice a step further to minimize your risks without completely depleting the pocketbook. Every year, the Environmental Working Group actually measures pesticide levels in fruits and veggies–after those fruits and veggies have been prepared in the way people would normally eat them. (For example, peeling a banana or washing first.) If you scroll down on the following page, you will see a list for the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen”.

      http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

      I bring your attention to these lists because I think they are very helpful for people who can’t afford to eat organic for everything. You could use these lists to help you decide when it is worth putting down money for organic and when it might be safer to buy non-organic.

      I hope this helps!




      0



      0
      1. It certainly does help – thank you for the quick and comprehensive response! I really appreciate Dr Greger and all the NF team’s efforts in getting this vital information out to the public.




        0



        0
  8. Question for the Doctor;

    This video got me thinking about pesticides and other toxic residue on fruits and vegetables. Do you have any data that supports the use of ultrasonic cleaning to remove these hazards? I did find one study from Thailand which did recommend warm water and 10 minutes of ultrasonic therapy, but wanted to hear your wisdom. I suppose that a better question is “Which method best cleans fruits and vegetables”.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Ultrasound and pesticide residue:
    As. J. Food Ag-Ind. 2012, 5(05), 364-373




    0



    0
  9. Dr. Greger,
    This was a very informative video. I am vegetarian; however, I consume eggs, and what I heard on the video was deeply disturbing to me. So I am wondering whether the researchers of the study on the egg consumption and dioxins used organic eggs or just regular store-bought eggs. Are the study findings include both types of eggs? Do you have information about the potential toxicity of organic eggs?
    Thank you.




    0



    0
  10. Ok I’m confused if the chicken eats the worm or the insects they become contaminated with Dixon. Question if we eat the vegetables that come from the soil are the contaminated as well ( organic of course)




    0



    0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This