How Much Arsenic in Rice is Too Much?

How Much Arsenic in Rice is Too Much?
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Strategies to reduce arsenic exposure from rice.

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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.

Those who are exposed to the most arsenic in rice are those who are exposed to the most rice—like people who are eating plant-based, or gluten-free, dairy-free. So, at-risk populations are not just infants and pregnant women, but those who may tend to eat more rice. What a terrible irony for the health conscious, who are trying to avoid dairy, eat lots of whole foods, lots of brown rice—so much so that they may not only suffer some theoretical increased lifetime cancer risk, but actually suffer arsenic poisoning.

For example, this poor woman. Bad enough she had celiac disease, so had to avoid wheat, barley, and rye, but turned to so much rice she ended up with sky-high arsenic levels, and some typical symptoms: “diarrhea, headache, insomnia, loss of appetite, abnormal taste, and impaired short-term memory and concentration.” So, we, as doctors, should keep an eye out for it in those who eat lots of rice day in and day out.

In their 2012 arsenic-in-rice exposé, Consumer Reports recommended adults eat no more than an average of two servings of rice a week, or three servings a week of rice cereal or rice pasta—though in their later analysis, it looked like rice cereal and rice pasta had more; so, they dropped their recommendation to like two servings a week. And, that’s if you’re not getting arsenic from other rice sources. So, they came up with this kind of point system, so people could add up all their rice products for the week, and make sure they’re staying under seven points a week, on average. So, if your only source of rice is just rice, then they recommend no more than one or two servings, and then call it a week.

But, I recommend 21 servings of whole grains a week in my Daily Dozen. Well, get to know quinoa, or buckwheat, or millet, or oatmeal, or barley, or any of the other dozen or so common non-rice whole grains out there. They tend to have “negligible levels of [toxic arsenic].”

Rice accumulates ten times more arsenic than other grains, which helps explain why the arsenic levels in urine samples from those who eat rice tend to consistently be higher than those who do not eat rice. The FDA recently tested a few dozen quinoa samples, and most had arsenic levels below the level of detection, or just trace amounts, including the red quinoas that are my family’s favorite, which I was happy about—though there were still a few that were up around like half that of rice. But overall, quinoa averaged ten times less arsenic than rice (the toxic arsenic). So, instead of two servings a week, following the Consumer Reports recommendation, you could have 20.

So, that’s strategy #1: “Diversify the diet” and “Consider alternatives to rice,” especially for infants. Then, we can “minimize exposure,…cook[ing] rice like pasta, with plenty of extra water.” We found that ten-to-one water-to-rice seemed best, though the data suggest the rinsing they recommend here doesn’t seem to do much. We can avoid “processed…foods sweetened with brown rice syrup.” Anything else we can do at the dining room table while waiting for “[f]ederal agencies [to] establish [some] regulatory limits”?

What if you eat a lot of fiber-containing foods with your rice? Might that help bind some of the arsenic? Apparently, not. But the presence of fat did seem to have an effect—but in the wrong direction, increasing estimates of arsenic absorption, likely due to the extra bile we release when we eat fatty foods.

We know that the tannic acid in coffee, and especially tea, can reduce iron absorption, which is why I recommend to not drink tea with meals. But hey, might it also decrease arsenic absorption? Yes, by perhaps 40 plus percent. So, they suggest tannic acid might help. But, they used megadoses: 17 cups of tea worth, or that found in 34 cups of coffee; so, it isn’t really practical.

What do the experts suggest? Well, hey, “[a]rsenic levels are lower in rice from certain regions, [like] California and parts of India.” So, why don’t we blend some of that in with some of the higher arsenic rice to even things out for everybody? What?!

Another wonky, thinking outside the ricebox, idea involves an algae discovered in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park, with an enzyme that can volatize arsenic into a gas. Aha! So, let’s genetically engineer that gene into a rice plant, and they were able to get a little arsenic gas off the thing, but the rice industry is hesitant. “Posed with a choice between [genetically engineered] rice and rice with arsenic in it, consumers may decide they just aren’t going to eat any rice [at all].”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image Credit: Pixabay. Image has been modified. 

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.

Those who are exposed to the most arsenic in rice are those who are exposed to the most rice—like people who are eating plant-based, or gluten-free, dairy-free. So, at-risk populations are not just infants and pregnant women, but those who may tend to eat more rice. What a terrible irony for the health conscious, who are trying to avoid dairy, eat lots of whole foods, lots of brown rice—so much so that they may not only suffer some theoretical increased lifetime cancer risk, but actually suffer arsenic poisoning.

For example, this poor woman. Bad enough she had celiac disease, so had to avoid wheat, barley, and rye, but turned to so much rice she ended up with sky-high arsenic levels, and some typical symptoms: “diarrhea, headache, insomnia, loss of appetite, abnormal taste, and impaired short-term memory and concentration.” So, we, as doctors, should keep an eye out for it in those who eat lots of rice day in and day out.

In their 2012 arsenic-in-rice exposé, Consumer Reports recommended adults eat no more than an average of two servings of rice a week, or three servings a week of rice cereal or rice pasta—though in their later analysis, it looked like rice cereal and rice pasta had more; so, they dropped their recommendation to like two servings a week. And, that’s if you’re not getting arsenic from other rice sources. So, they came up with this kind of point system, so people could add up all their rice products for the week, and make sure they’re staying under seven points a week, on average. So, if your only source of rice is just rice, then they recommend no more than one or two servings, and then call it a week.

But, I recommend 21 servings of whole grains a week in my Daily Dozen. Well, get to know quinoa, or buckwheat, or millet, or oatmeal, or barley, or any of the other dozen or so common non-rice whole grains out there. They tend to have “negligible levels of [toxic arsenic].”

Rice accumulates ten times more arsenic than other grains, which helps explain why the arsenic levels in urine samples from those who eat rice tend to consistently be higher than those who do not eat rice. The FDA recently tested a few dozen quinoa samples, and most had arsenic levels below the level of detection, or just trace amounts, including the red quinoas that are my family’s favorite, which I was happy about—though there were still a few that were up around like half that of rice. But overall, quinoa averaged ten times less arsenic than rice (the toxic arsenic). So, instead of two servings a week, following the Consumer Reports recommendation, you could have 20.

So, that’s strategy #1: “Diversify the diet” and “Consider alternatives to rice,” especially for infants. Then, we can “minimize exposure,…cook[ing] rice like pasta, with plenty of extra water.” We found that ten-to-one water-to-rice seemed best, though the data suggest the rinsing they recommend here doesn’t seem to do much. We can avoid “processed…foods sweetened with brown rice syrup.” Anything else we can do at the dining room table while waiting for “[f]ederal agencies [to] establish [some] regulatory limits”?

What if you eat a lot of fiber-containing foods with your rice? Might that help bind some of the arsenic? Apparently, not. But the presence of fat did seem to have an effect—but in the wrong direction, increasing estimates of arsenic absorption, likely due to the extra bile we release when we eat fatty foods.

We know that the tannic acid in coffee, and especially tea, can reduce iron absorption, which is why I recommend to not drink tea with meals. But hey, might it also decrease arsenic absorption? Yes, by perhaps 40 plus percent. So, they suggest tannic acid might help. But, they used megadoses: 17 cups of tea worth, or that found in 34 cups of coffee; so, it isn’t really practical.

What do the experts suggest? Well, hey, “[a]rsenic levels are lower in rice from certain regions, [like] California and parts of India.” So, why don’t we blend some of that in with some of the higher arsenic rice to even things out for everybody? What?!

Another wonky, thinking outside the ricebox, idea involves an algae discovered in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park, with an enzyme that can volatize arsenic into a gas. Aha! So, let’s genetically engineer that gene into a rice plant, and they were able to get a little arsenic gas off the thing, but the rice industry is hesitant. “Posed with a choice between [genetically engineered] rice and rice with arsenic in it, consumers may decide they just aren’t going to eat any rice [at all].”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image Credit: Pixabay. Image has been modified. 

Doctor's Note

This is the 11th in a 13-video series on arsenic. If you missed the first 10, watch them here:

Only two major questions remain. Should we just moderate our intake of white rice, or minimize it? And, are there unique benefits to brown rice that would justify keeping it in our diet, despite the arsenic content? That’s what I cover in the final two videos: Is White Rice a Yellow-Light or Red-Light Food? and Do the Pros of Brown Rice Outweigh the Cons of Arsenic?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

167 responses to “How Much Arsenic in Rice is Too Much?

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  1. what about arsenic levels in california-grown organic grapes? California grown organic broccoli and romaine?

    And what are your latest feelings on the persin-exess issue from eating avocados throughout the year?

    Thank you.




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      1. That humans cannot digest plant cell walls should not be a surprise, but it also brings profound relief to avocado devotees, everywhere, in the current focus on persin toxicity. Even if we misunderstand what happens to persin in human digestion, one practical test of a “toxic” food is the wide range of successful, safe human consumption.

        By analogy, a cup of apple seeds contains enough cyanide to kill promptly, but few, if any, people harvest and consume apple seeds.




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  2. “…consumers may decide they just aren’t going to eat any rice [at all].”

    Yep. That’s pretty much the position that I’ve arrived at after all of these videos. Why bother? It’s okay, but it’s fairly neutral tasting stuff. I can live, and it would appear that I can live better and longer, without it.

    I really enjoy the flavor and texture of whole grain oats, a.k.a. oat groats, and I’ve been having it more often. I don’t have to soak it. I don’t have to boil it like pasta and toss the good with the bad by discarding the cooking water down the drain. It makes a good pilaf. It cooks quicker, and it works for sweet and savory dishes.




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    1. Joe, how long does it take to cook whole oat groats?
      I use steel-cut, 1 cup (4 servings) to 2 cups water, plus 1-2 teaspoons cider vinegar, soaked overnight; in the morning, I bring almost to a boil and let cool– cooked.
      As for (whole grain) pasta, I’ve found a cupful with spaces water-filled (haven’t tried vinegar) soaks well (untimed), needing only warming to dining temperature, and any extra water can go to soup or stew.




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    2. Millet also makes a good rice substitute, and to me is very little different tasting when used in soup or another form where you don’t eat it by itself.




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    3. This rice discussion came at a very opportune time.

      The herbalist I had been seeing told me to eat “Kitchari” as a monomeal for a few weeks. I questioned the arsenic in rice (thought purchased Lundberg) and she said is was nothing to be concerned about, she had people eat Kitchari (rice and mung beans) for up to thirty days as a “detox” food source…….




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  3. This is pretty much THE most devastating nutrition information I could have been given… :(
    I am extremely sick since birth and rice used to be one of the only few things my body could take without going into complete shutdown and anaphylaxis. Now I will have to choose between a feeding tube formula which has brown rice and brown rice protein as its first ingredient but other than that healthy plant-based ingredients or the standard formula which doesn’t contain rice but is made out of disgusting things such as maltodextrin, soy protein isolates, sugar, synthetic vitamins and rapeseed oil (things that I would never voluntarily consume). Basically, I have the choice between the devil and the deep blue sea…

    (BTW, shouldn’t the Asian populations with the highest rice consumption all display symptoms of arsenic poisoning?)




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    1. I go with the vote of billions of people on earth who eat rice on a daily basis and have no symptoms. Sciences have its limitation, like measuring the level of arsenic in toenail or urine after somebody eats rice and say that a person is intoxicated with arsenic. Having traces of arsenic in those parts of the body does not mean you are poisoned with arsenic. What happens if this is a form of organic arsenic in rice versus chemical arsenic that they feed directly to laboratory rats and see them getting cancer? Why don’t they feed the rats with rice day after day and see what will happen? Actually we already billions of “guinea pigs” in billions of people in the world who eat rice several times every day. The arsenic rice scare is the same as the scare in this country about soybean while billions of people in the world eat soybean daily without any symptom.




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      1. I see your point.
        Remember, the issue with rice is not the food – it is the fact that in the US, it has been grown in polluted chemically contaminated soils ruined by animal agriculture effects (among other reasons). So, making the claim that all of the billions of people in China that eat rice have no health effects, or another world location, is a false argument, since we’re not addressing the real problem. US grown rice is contaminated by arsenic because of chemical contamination of our agricultural lands. It is not contaminated with arsenic because it is rice!




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        1. Good point, but most of our organic produce (fruit and veggies) grows on soil in California that got
          saturated with toxic chemicals for 50 + years, and then converted to organic farm, but lots of that
          junk (arsenic) is still in the soil. I think it is time to move on from the rice-arsenic issue and now onto
          how arsenic is accumulating in “real food”, food that is fresh, that does not need to be cooked. Fruits
          and vegetables. Nuts, seeds.




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          1. Rice from all over the world has arsenic. Not just the rice where arsenic pesticides were used. Rice must naturally absorb arsenic from the soil.




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            1. This discussion is overlooking the fact that there’s apparently a major difference in terms of impact on health between inorganic arsenic (the type put in the soil in the southern US) and organic arsenic. My wife, who is Japanese, read a relatively recent report by Japanese experts on the amount of arsenic in rice grown in Japan. The amount on average was roughly the same as the lower amount found in some California rice (as near as she could tell doing a quick conversion). The experts said there is no evidence that this amount of organic arsenic has any unwanted health effects. It seems to me the real issue is how much **inorganic** arsenic is in the rice of various populations that eat lots of rice. Gross generalizations about billions of people eating lots of rice is meaningless.




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        2. Not quite true. Arsenic happens in nature in a number of countries, from the countries surrounding the Mekong Delta to India. Of course Western Sciences will come in and say that it is toxic and arsenic needs to be filtered out. But the fact is that billions of people have consumed rice for several hundreds of years without any health problem before we even know about the “danger” of arsenic.

          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3128386/




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          1. You are overlooking the difference between organic and inorganic arsenic. Japanese experts have looked at the arsenic levels in Japanese rice, which is mostly organic, and have concluded there is no safety issue, according to my Japanese wife, who read a relatively recent report on the issue. It’s important to compare apples to oranges. It is not the case that all experts think organic arsenic is a problem.




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            1. OK most chemical comes from nature and there are only a few if any that are completely man made. So if man dumps chemical arsenic into the ground for 100 of years while growing cotton and now grows rice, does that arsenic become organic again?




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              1. You have a misunderstanding of what organic and inorganic means here. When we talk about organic vs. inorganic with respect to arsenic these terms refer to different types of chemicals. Organic chemistry is a field of chemistry that studies compounds that contain carbon atoms or organic compounds whereas inorganic chemistry is a field of chemistry that studies non-carbon containing compounds. That is when discussing chemistry organic refers to compounds that contain carbon atoms and inorganic refers to all other compounds. It has nothing to do with manmade vs. natural. Organic arsenic is actually a group of different compounds that all have the carbon to arsenic chemical bonds. Remember Arsenic is actually an element in the periodic table. Inorganic arsenic refers to a group of compounds that do not have the carbon to Arsenic chemical bonds. Organic arsenic has a fundamentally different chemical structure than inorganic arsenic. The chemical structure of compounds changes the properties of compounds including how our body handles them.
                Let’s take a simple example from real life table salt. The chemical formula for table salt is NaCl or sodium chloride and it can be dissolved in water easily. Now consider the two elements on there own Na (sodium) and Cl (chlorine ). First, putting Na (sodium is highly reactive with water and if you put enough of it in water you can cause an explosion. Chlorine on it’s own exists as a highly toxic gas which you may have heard referred to as mustard gas and was used during world war one as a chemical weapon. However, table salt or NaCl is a pretty much harmless substance. The properties of chemical compounds and how they behave in our bodies and interact with other substances is highly dependent on the chemical structure they have (the chemical bonds in the compound).

                The answer to your question is an unequivocal no. Time on it’s own will not convert inorganic arsenic compounds to organic arsenic compounds.




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              2. #Jerry Lewis… do you simply not understand the issue or do you don’t like to understand the issue? So, I try to explain it slowly again.
                First: there is a different between “organic arsenic” and “inorganic arsenic” ()
                Second: the total amount average of arsenic in rice in Asia is like the lowest of USA (California); despite there is no extra statement, I think that Dr. Greger speak in his article only from the amount of “inorganic arsenic”, also from Asia
                Third: Did you read this sentence: “…But the presence of fat did seem to have an effect—but in the wrong direction, increasing estimates of arsenic absorption, likely due to the extra bile we release when we eat fatty foods….”?
                If you have any idea of the main diet of an “normal” Asian, so you know, that this people eat rarely meat, use rarely extra oil* – what eats a typical western people with rice? Yes, some meat fried in oil… can you catch what that mean?
                Fourth: inorganic arsenic can’t went to organic arsenic on the field – maybe in a lab. Maybe after growing rice on this contaminated fields for a couple of years (maybe 100) the contamination will increase and the following harvest will be ok – but there is still one issu: What do you do with the rice betwenn this 100 years?

                Let me tell you a thought beside this special issue Arsenic.

                Ones farmers have had a very good reputation, because they have been called “the guardians of the food”, because farmers have known a lots about soil, weather, seasons, growing corn, fruits, vegetables etc.. Today farmers knows (in my oppinion) much less about this important things – but a lot of weather apps, stock rates, how to repair a truck… and they do what the chemical industry tell them to do is the best. Short – they are stupid and short thinking today. B U T is it only there folishness? I don’t think so… there are more points to rethink. One point, for example, is the consumer – the consumer likes the best and the most for the smales price. How many people buy there stuff at a organic shop today? In Germany only 4,7 % of the whole sales, Denmark 8,4 % and in your country? Another point is, that the big business has more power, because they have the support by the gouverment and the military and police, to do what they want – have a closer look to some countries whre the smal family farmers loos there fields for big soy plantations (and this soy grows also by using pesticides) to feed the big amount of livestock – and who is eating this meat?
                * most of the people in Indonesia can affort a single drop of oil, despite the biggest palm-oil plantations stay in front of there house, on there former fields. But this oil is not for the people of Indonesia, is’t for junkfood in Europe (USA also, look at the Incredienslist) or to put it at the petrol in Germany (all Petrol content up to 10 % palmoil, becauser the gouverment like it to say: this petrol is made with 10 % of renewable commodity… the people wich die in Indonesia because they have no food at all? Oh, shit happens for them but we need this oil more urgently)

                I tell you what. For me – Dr. Gregers article is like a little (important) torch, there ray of lights brighten only a very smal part, the most still remains in the darkness. He is doing the best he can, he and his team works hard, every day B U T he can’t think evering thing for us… we have to use our one intelligent to keep thinking. So, for me and my family it’s quite simple – we do it like Ghandi – If you like to change the world, change your self first. It’s much easy always to say, I hear or read what you say “B U T” … before I say but I try to think in bigger conections. ;-)




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              3. The biogeochemistry is complex (look up “arsenic” in wikipedia) and way beyond my level of chemistry competence. However, I would like to point out that both forms occur naturally. Your question seems to assume there might be some invariable change from inorganic to organic over time. If this is what you meant, then I’d say the answer is clearly “no”. The distinction between the two types is what elemental arsenic is bound to – if carbon, then the compound is organic, if something else, then it’s inorganic. As discussed in the wikipedia article, arsenic compounds can change in various ways, by various processes, including going from organic to some inorganic form. Or it could stay around as it is for eons.




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                1. David, OK I buy your argument, But the issue is that the rice plant absorbs the inorganic arsenic and then we eat the rice. But it’s not us eating the inorganic arsenic directly. This is similar to us eating vegetables that were sprayed with pesticides and insecticides and we have already washed the vegetables before eating. So is there any insecticide or pesticide that is already sucked in by the vegetable? No. The same thing is that most chemical fertilizer is toxic if we consume it, but given it to a plant and then we eat the plant then it’s OK.




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                  1. You appear to have a misunderstanding of how fertilizer actually works. The plant never actually takes in the fertilizer. It only takes in the nutrients that are released into the soil when it breaks down. The amount of time it takes for the fertilizer to breakdown into the needed nutrients is dependent on soil conditions. What this means is that the toxic fertilizer is never given to the plant at all in it’s original form. That means the plant does not have the toxic compound in it when you eat it. This is not comparable to inorganic arsenic in rice plants, because the inorganic arsenic compound is absorbed into the plant with it’s chemical structure intact. So you actually are directly consuming inorganic arsenic when you eat rice. Remember that the chemical structure of a compound has an outsized effect on it’s properties and how it interacts with other compounds. Our bodies have well developed ways of reducing the toxicity of organic arsenic compounds. Unfortunately, the chemical structure of inorganic arsenic compounds causes it to bind tightly to living cells. When this happens it directly interferes with their metabolisms which destroys the cell. This article is a good overview of what’s actually happening in terms of the chemistry and you don’t need more than a general understanding of chemistry to understand it : https://www.wired.com/2012/02/on-rice-and-arsenic/ . Basically inorganic arsenic compounds can cause cell death when introduced to our bodies. Furthermore, even if inorganic arsenic was absorbed such that it was broken down into components in it’s elemental form Arsenic is highly toxic.




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          2. I’m wondering, Jerry, how you know that “billions of people . . . have no health problems.” What a bizarrely large generalization lacking fact.




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        3. I agree, Lisa. And remember, when there’s a lot of arsenic in the soil, the plant develops straight head disease, which is basically nature’s red flag warning us not to eat it. Instead, chemical companies genetically modified it to bypass that red flag nature so generously gave us.

          BTW, I just ate a boat-load of white basmati rice last night at my favorite Indian restaurant. I know their rice comes from India, so I’m not worried. It’s only the rice from south central US that I will make an effort to avoid. Besides, I eat oats, corn meal & quinoa way more regularly than rice.




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            1. Jerry, you’ll note in the article you cite, under Arsenic contamination in Asia, that “The probable reason why relatively few disease symptoms had been diagnosed thus far is that arsenic-contaminated groundwater has been used for drinking water for fewer than 10 years, whereas symptoms usually become apparent 10 years or more after exposure.”
              So “contamination of groundwater by arsenic is an emerging issue in Afghanistan, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Thailand”.




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            2. Yes, Jerry, arsenic does, in fact, occur in nature. This does not mean that it is not harmful to us. All things in nature that are natural are not necessarily good for us or neutral – poisonous mushroom, coral snake bites, certain poisonous berries, – all occur in nature. That does not mean we want to consume or experience them.
              An important piece of this information packet that Dr. G is sharing with us is the very highly concentrated levels of inorganic arsenic found particularly in the southern areas of the US. And, as usual, Dr. G give us information and, as always, lets the viewer decide how they would like to use that information in their lives.
              If you would like to continue to eat arsenic from wherever you would like, . . .so be it. I’m sure no one here cares what you choose to do. And I am certain that some would prefer you eat as much rice as your heart desires.




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      2. That makes sense to me. I am going to do a blood arsenic level since I have been eating Brown rice almost daily since going plant based a about 6 years ago. Fortunately it is California grown. I don’t think I will give it up, but will change the way I cook it. In the China study, seems like there was a much lower cancer rate than in the western world. Anyone have data on that?




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      3. I agree with JL above. Earlier in the series someone asked a question about all the other people in the world whose diet is mainly rice-based. It went unanswered. There’s got to be some epidemiological studies out there that address the question of how toxic arsenic is to these populations. Maybe Dr G did address this and I missed it.




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    2. I tbink it is worth considering that despite all this, populations that eat more rice tend to live longer, and the more the better.

      I think the risk isn’t worth worrying about to be honest. The Okinawa Japanese eat plenty of rice, and they are perhaps the longest living population of all recorded history.




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      1. They don’t have giant CAFO chicken industries pushing their legislatures to allow toxic arsenic into their feed and soil for decades. If I ate only rice from Okinawa and I could see it was ok, I might not have to limit my rice either. Unfortunately, I live in the United States, where wealthy lobbyists have pushed to put arsenic into our soil, and therefore, rice.
        John S




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      2. #Doug
        This is short thinking.
        The people of Okinawa has been (past!) one of the longest living population and is was (past) not only because they have eaten a lots of rice. They also have had no junk food, no milk consumption, a lot of tofu, miso, vegtables including sea vegtables, less fresh fish, nearly no meat. they have a lots of movement on the fresh sea air, no air polution at all in the past. They have had no stress but a lots of meditations (look at the work of Dr. Ornish). And there soil have had no pesticides, funkicides or such stuff.
        Stop thinking in reductionism pattern – try to think more holistic.
        And beside – not only the people of Okinawa have been the longest living populations – there have been more. May you can get the book: Healthy at 100. How you can – at any age- dramatically increase your lifespan and your health span, written by John Robbins.




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        1. Heilpraktiker – the traditional long-lived Okinawan diet used the purple sweet potato as its base, not rice. Although they did consume rice (12%) the potato was 70% of their diet. This is a common misunderstanding about the diet of the longest-lived people. They also were physically active, sat on the floor where they had to use their muscles to get up and down. Even 90 year old women sat on the floor and got themselves up from the floor unassisted. How many 90 years old do you know that do that? They are an impressive people.

          https://www.pinterest.com/pin/553239135450094622




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    3. Dear Tia,

      I have heard (no scientific substantiation, but makes sense) that the arsenic resides in the outer layer, and that soaking the rice overnight, and then tossing the water and rinsing the rice well before cooking it, (with a bit less water and less cooking time then you would normally use) will help to greatly diminish the level of arsenic. Also white rice is safer to use regarding this issue. Hope this is helpful, so no need to panic!




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      1. Thank you for your answer. But as I mentioned, the rice I am talking about comes in the form of feeding tube formula, so I have no part in its preparation.




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  4. Wait, so washing the rice doesn’t help that much? Other videos suggest washing rice prior to cooking, and cooking it in large amounts of water does help significantly. What is the consensus now overall on how much the washing/rinsing does help? I agree with diversification for multiple reasons.




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      1. “Rice is great when you’re really hungry and want to eat two thousand of something.” – Mitch Hedberg

        Would cold-soaking in a lot of water overnight help perhaps?




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        1. Yes, as do I. But cooking it–the “new way” still doesn’t absolve my mind of the contamination issue. I cooked two batches of black rice during this very very long series (is it over yet?) and wound up throwing out more of it than I ate. So it’d be more energy and water conserving if I simply discard the rice uncooked.

          Most of it was a gift (from bulk-origin also unknown) and I’ve found that there is NO WAY to determine where the Asian company that packages and distributes the black rice that I have (the only that I’ve found) is actually grown.

          Rice and I can separate for a year or two, no big deal, but I have been eating a bunch and do like it.

          I’m now learning to make sourdough, my tortilla making is getting pretty good, and will have to expand my legumes and grains “depth of field” in order to fill the hole in my eating habits left by the lack of rice. More potatoes too, mmm spuds.




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    1. David, I know. I’m an immigrant from south Asia. My first solid-food meal was rice, and I’ve been eating rice at least two meals a day, even after moving to the US. I feel sick if I don’t eat rice, like while traveling, two consecutive days. So far my body hasn’t shown any symptoms of arsenic toxicity. I wonder if Asians, who have been eating rice for generations, have developed some resistance.




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      1. Just addressed this in another comment. It’s not some special genetic adaptation. You’ll find studies where uric As levels in Asian children are 2-3 times higher than those found in Caucasian children. It appears our bodies are adapted to excreting As, if provided the right foods along with rice in the diet.

        Like yourself, I’ve been consuming mass quantities of rice for years. No plan on changing that.




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      2. hi George, I am not sure what country/region you origionally came from, but from this video series we see that many regions of asia grow rice that has lower arsenic levels, particularly india and pakistan. I also looked at the studies posted under each video, and the analysis papers published by the US FDA available online and links posted throughout comments in this series. I would encourage you to look for a comment by ‘ Darryl’ on monday’s video to help add some perspective.

        So, if I start with a good brand of Indian basmati (with some of the lowest arsenic levels out there), wash it and cook it with lots of water, I can possibly reduce the arsenic a further 50% or more. Then, if I serve it with canadian grown lentils I can increase the arsenic clearance from my body (vit c, B12 and folate can also help … a respected NF contributor “tom” posted sources for this in prior comments sections) . I hope this helps a bit




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        1. Susan not to be contrary but wasn’t the final message of today’s videos there are great alternatives? I switched months ago to oat grouts and actually prefer them.

          It’s like the doctor in What the Health who said yes tiny fish like sardines have less poisons than big fish but why eat any? That’s kinda how I feel about this rice issue. Occasionally yeah but anything more is just not necessary and the other grains are so flavorable.




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          1. I hear ya WFPBRunner! There are a couple if issues I have been thinking about in all of this… one is the cultural/ traditional role food plays in the whole scheme of things. I can’t disregard what I have seen posters lament over past weeks on here… does that change the bottom line re arsenic in rice ? No, objectively it doesnt. But, putting together suggestions from the FDA, EPA, consumer reports, and this website, I thought I probably will enjoy rice on those occasions important to me. I dont know how George feels about the risk taking, but that’s his decision.

            The other thing that bothers me is that according to the EPA, 17 % of our dietary arsenic comes from rice, BUT 18% comes from fruit, and 24% from vegies! I live in a selenium deficient region and selenium helps expel arsenic from the body. My whole diet is fruit, vegies, some rice, legumes and oats. I am continuing to read up on this as it does concern me. I have also lived on well water the past 40 years in different locals.

            I will try to find oat groats. Thanks for the suggestion! Experimenting with new recipes has been one of the highlights to my wfpb path, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.




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    2. As just mentioned in a previous comment, this series has done a disservice to promoting plant-based diets. Dr. Greger continues to avoid answering the question of why, if As is so toxic and cancer-promoting, that Asian countries that consume the most rice have the lowest overall cancer incidence rates. There’s more to it that just one harmful substance in one food. If that was the case, there are a lot of plant-based foods that naturally contain one or more potentially harmful substances. Yet populations that consume those same foods in large quantities as part of a predominantly plan’t-based diet seem to fair far better in terms of avoiding chronic illnesses than those who consume diets high in animal-based foods.

      Keep enjoying your rice. Know that Asian countries with very low cancer rates consume 10-20 times as much rice as we in North America and Europe do. If you prefer, follow their dietary habits by only consuming rice grown in Asia. Not that hard to find affordable Basmati rice from India and Pakistan, or Jasmine rice from Thailand. Also eat a lot of greens,some beans or lentils as well as onions and garlic with your rice,. Apparently sulfur-rich foods help detox Arsenic, something Dr. Greger neglects to mention.




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      1. But why continue to eat rice when there are great alternatives. Have you tried others? They are so delicious.

        I guess us humans have a hard time making change.




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      2. Asians eat everything. They eat meat, seafood, legumes, vegetables, bean, seed, grain including rice, exotic fruits and healthy animal fats and everyone of their meals are loaded with onion, garlic and herb. When they eat meat, they eat joint meat and bone meat and marrow and bone broth and skin. While we eat muscle and lean meat which causes cancer. So their onion and garlic and herbs and a lot more cancel out all the chemical toxics which they get more due to pollution. And when they eat meat and fats then they get benefits because they eat the right parts while we eat the wrong parts and blame it on animal foods. It’s their diverse foods that make the difference. When we study what they eat, we pick out fruits and vegetables and sweet potatoes and we say that is what people in the blue zone eat, blah blah blah… All wrong and baloney.

        No wonder why we are getting sick without enjoying life.




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      3. pp, jl posted a link to a study (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3128386/) which, among other things, tries to explain why As contamination is now a growing problem in much of East and South Asia.




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  5. Today in a German online- magazine (Focus online Unterhaltung: “Neue Schock- Studie könnte Streit zwischen Veganern und Fleischessern entscheiden”) there was quoted a study from Bristol university with 10.000 male participants. The result is, that vegans suffer more from depression because of Vitamin B12 deficit and they eat more nuts which increases the omega -6-fatty acids and that causes more inflammation in the body.

    To avoid seafood can cause depression or too much soybeans cause an excess of phytoestrogens and therefore vegetarians suffer double from anxiety disorders or depression than non-vegetarians.

    Is this study true or a fake news? The original title of the study was not mentioned in the magazine, so it is difficult for me to find the original source.




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    1. Why don’t you watch videos on this site regarding nut consumption, inflammations, soy, and seafood and you get the answers you seek?

      And yes, Focus is our equivalent of the Time Magazin promoting to eat butter.

      Of course, if you eat only omega-6 rich nuts en mass, drink gallons of soy milk per day and not supplement b12 and get the rest of your calories from pre-made vegan junk food, sure you’ll be sick and depressed.




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        1. Additionally I have checked the Focus online and they are using references to Uwe Knop and Udo Pollmer which are known among German non-meat eaters as bought by the industry. Udo Pollmers book “Der Vegane Wahnsinn” is full of misinterpretations and misleading information and should be illegal. :-/ For example, he recommends not to eat Berries because they are for birds not for humans and can “upset” the stomach and instead we should eat marmalade on toast with a nice spread of Healthy butter below…this man is the devil.-.-




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    2. Knowing about the study cited is important because Big Ag and many companies skew data to suit their marketing message. They also pay for studies and have them designed to make their product look good. So it’s important to follow the money. Dr Greger does this for all of us, so we don’t have to!




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    3. Sounds like fake news to me, or they looked at a bunch of junk food vegans. Any vegan *should* know they need to supplement B12. Why would avoiding seafood cause depression? The only reason I can think of would be cases where the vegans do not get enough omega 2 fatty acids, again suggesting these vegans had a poor diet. Eating walnuts and ground flax, chia, etc provide lots of omega 3 in the form of ALA. If one wants DHA/EPA directly, there are algal supplements. Whatever one’s diet, it pays to be knowledgeable.




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    4. People don’t like to hear bad stories over here. There are vegans who eat very unhealthy just like there are meat eaters who eat unhealthy. The problem is that most vegans don’t know when the eat unhealthy, like eating too much nuts and seeds and get a load of Omega 6, not getting enough amino acids and protein by eating various foods, not taking B12 supplement, not taking DHA supplement, not eating enough fat, not getting vitamin A (not the same as Beta Carotene), etc.




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      1. jl, I agree with you except for the first sentence, and maybe the part about A vs beta-carotene.
        I don’t think most people posting here think of themselves as merely ‘vegan.’ Frites (French fries) and beer are a vegan diet, as are potato chips and Coke.




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    5. I’ve found it: http://www.jad-journal.com/article/S0165-0327(16)32391-6/abstract

      Abstract
      Background
      Vegetarian diets are associate with cardiovascular and other health benefits, but little is known about mental health benefits or risks.

      Aims

      To determine whether self-identification of vegetarian dietary habits is associated with significant depressive symptoms in men.

      Method
      Self-report data from 9668 adult male partners of pregnant women in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) included identification as vegetarian or vegan, dietary frequency data and the Edinburgh Post Natal Depression Scale (EPDS). Continuous and binary outcomes were assessed using multiple linear and logistic regression taking account of potential confounding variables including: age, marital status, employment status, housing tenure, number of children in the household, religion, family history of depression previous childhood psychiatric contact, cigarette and alcohol consumption.

      Results
      Vegetarians [n = 350 (3.6% of sample)], had higher depression scores on average than non-vegetarians (mean difference 0.96 points [95%CI + 0.53, + 1.40]) and a greater risk for EPDS scores above 10 (adjusted OR = 1.67 [95% CI: 1.14,2.44]) than non-vegetarians after adjustment for potential confounding factors.

      Conclusions
      Vegetarian men have more depressive symptoms after adjustment for socio-demographic factors. Nutritional deficiencies (e.g. in cobalamin or iron) are a possible explanation for these findings, however reverse causation cannot be ruled out.


      This website which presents the study has a hint at the bottom of the text pointing to the JAD journal.

      https://tenplay.com.au/news/national/august-2017/vegetarians-are-more-likely-to-be-depressed-study

      Grüße, Denis




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    6. # Anton Rohrer, MD
      Wie Julia schon sagte, warum schauen Sie Focus und noch besser die Erwähnung des Superhelden Udo Polmer (eigentlich ende der Diskussion!)

      Es ist in Deutschland bekannt, dass der Focus die Bildzeitung der Akademiker ist. Einfache Frage, warum haben die “Journalisten” des Focus wohl “vergessen” den Namen und das Journal wo die Studie veröffentlicht wurde, zu erwähnen?
      Diese pauschalen Aussagen nerven gehörig und immer nach dem Motto, wer am lautesten schreit hat Recht.
      Was die Depression angeht: Ich bin ebenfalls ein Mensch der sich seit mehr als 10 Jahren rein pflanzlich ernährt und ja (!) ich habe manchmal depressive Phasen, dass liegt aber nicht am B12 Mangel, an zuvielen Nüssen, am fehlen von Quecksilber verseuchtet Fischen als Nahrung als vielmehr an der ständig abnehmenden Anzahl halbwegs intelligenter, zum selbstständigen denken fähiger Menschen, mit denen ich mich noch unterhalten kann.
      Mal Hand aufs Herz: Wieviele Menschen mit Depressionen oder depressiven Phasen haben Sie in ihrer Praxis? Wie viele sind Veganer?
      Ich kann aus meiner Praxis sagen, dass ich in der Anamnese meiner Patienten bei rund 50 % das Wort “Depression oder depressive Phase” notiert habe, der Anteil an Veganern ist dabei 0, weil ich unter meinen Patienten nur 1 Veganer habe. Ok, kann daran liegen das ich meine Praxis auf einem bayrischen dorf habe und die Bayern meinen, weil eine Kuh normalerweise Gras frisst ist der Verzehr von Kuhfleisch eigentlich auch vegan.
      Aber Spass bei Seite – unter Veganern gibt es eigentlich 3 Hauptmotivationsgründe vegan zu leben, der erste ist “der neue Trend”, weil es hipp ist, der Zweite, weil es um die armen Tiere geht die man nicht mehr essen möchte und der Dritte ist die eigene Gesundheit. Die zwei erst genannten Gruppen haben in der Regel ein sehr, sehr begrenztes Wissen von gesunder Ernährung, daher kann es in diesen Gruppen auch zu ernährungsbedingten Komplikationen kommen. Aber warum ist das so? Für mich spielen da die Medien und die Industrie (wieder einmal) eine Ausschlag gebende Rolle. Nehmen wir Herrn Attila Hildman, der “Vegan-Guru” Deutschlands, der mehrere Kochbücher schrieb, als Experte in jeder Talkshow zu sehen ist – folgen Sie dessen Ratschlägen und Rezepten und sie entwickeln in kurzer Zeit ein mindestens ein hohes Cholesterin, eventuell Diabetes II und RR, der Typ ht weder Ahnung von gesunder Ernährung (er studiert ja auch sinniger Weise Physik seit Jahren) noch hat er Hanung von Rezeptbücher schreiben, denn dies tut ein Ghostwriter…, als nächstes nehmen wir die Firma “Rügenwalder” die voll den Trend “Vegan-Vegatarisch” erkannt hat und nun Produkte on mass herstellt, mittlerweile macht diese Sparte den meisten Umsatz – schon mal hinten auf die Inhaltsliste geschaut? Wohl bekomms. Und dann die Dokumentationen, die den Zuschauer informieren sollen, erst vorgestern lief wieder eine – da streuben sich einem die Haare im Nacken!
      Und leider, last but not least, haben auch die Mehrzahl der Ärzte in Deutschland keine Ahnung von einer gesunden pflanzlichen, fettarmen Ernährung – selbst vegane Ärzte nicht! (ich kenne 2)
      Noch ein Wort zu Ihrer Frage, wie eine Studie mit 10.000 Teilnehmern zu dieser Erkennis kommen kann. Wir kennen leider die Studie nicht aber wir können ja mal ein bisschen “spinnen”. :-)
      Wenn die Studie in Deutschland stattgefunden hätte, dann wären, im besten Fall, bei 10.000 Teilnehmer ca. 100 Veganer/Vegetarier gewesen. Denn in Deutschland sind ja rund 1 % der Bevölkerung Veganer/Vegetarier. Also könnten es 50 Veganer sein. Wenn unter den 50 Veganern nun 10 wären die eine Depression hätten, dann wären es natürlich 20 % der Veganer. Vom Rest der Teilnehmer (9.950) könnnten vielleicht 1.500 Leute eine Depression haben, dann wären das natürlich weniger als 20 %. Wenn man aber die Gesamtzahl der Despressionen gegen die Gesamtzahl der Teilnehmer rechnet, dann hätten 16 der Teilnehmer eine Depression, der Anteil der Veganer mit Depression wäre aber nur 0,5 % (der Gesamten Teilnehmer).
      Es kommt also darauf an, wie man die Zahlen ins Verhältnis stellt, wie man die gewonnen Fakten aufbereitet und interpretiert oder einfacher gesagt – was für ein Ergebnis der Geldgeber der Studie gern hätte. ;-)
      Ah und noch ein Gedanke, da wir die Studie und das Design nicht kennen.
      Wenn ich Veganer bin und einen relativ niedriges Niveau an B12 im Serum habe, habe ich dann Vitamin B12 Mangel? Könnte es sein, dass der bessere MMA Test aussagen würde, nö, alles noch im grünen Bereich.
      Und wie steht es damit: Vegan, niedriges Level an B12 und ein Elternteil ist gerade gestorben oder die Arbeit verloren oder ich weiß nicht wie ich mein Haus bezahlen soll, meine Frau will sich scheiden lassen…. kommt die Depression dann vom B12 Mangel oder eher von den anderen belastenden Umständen?
      Für Herrn Polmer wäre die Antwort jetzt klar: Bei einem Fleischesser wären es die Umstände, bei einem Vegaer klar der B12 Mangel. ;-)




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      1. Denis says:
        AUGUST 10TH, 2017 AT 4:58 AM
        I’ve found it: http://www.jad-journal.com/article/S0165-0327(16)32391-6/abstract
        Abstract
        Background
        Vegetarian diets are associate with cardiovascular and other health benefits, but little is known about mental health benefits or risks.
        Aims
        To determine whether self-identification of vegetarian dietary habits is associated with significant depressive symptoms in men.
        Method
        Self-report data from 9668 adult male partners of pregnant women in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) included identification as vegetarian or vegan, dietary frequency data and the Edinburgh Post Natal Depression Scale (EPDS). Continuous and binary outcomes were assessed using multiple linear and logistic regression taking account of potential confounding variables including: age, marital status, employment status, housing tenure, number of children in the household, religion, family history of depression previous childhood psychiatric contact, cigarette and alcohol consumption.
        Results
        Vegetarians [n = 350 (3.6% of sample)], had higher depression scores on average than non-vegetarians (mean difference 0.96 points [95%CI + 0.53, + 1.40]) and a greater risk for EPDS scores above 10 (adjusted OR = 1.67 [95% CI: 1.14,2.44]) than non-vegetarians after adjustment for potential confounding factors.
        Conclusions
        Vegetarian men have more depressive symptoms after adjustment for socio-demographic factors. Nutritional deficiencies (e.g. in cobalamin or iron) are a possible explanation for these findings, however reverse causation cannot be ruled out.—
        This website which presents the study has a hint at the bottom of the text pointing to the JAD journal.
        https://tenplay.com.au/news/national/august-2017/vegetarians-are-more-likely-to-be-depressed-study

        Grüße, Denis

        Hier ist das Originalzitat. Ich habe das Buch von Dr.Greger erst vor rund einem Monat kennengelernt, es hat mich in seinen Argumenten völlig überzeugt, ernähre mich selber seither vegan, gebe es auch meinen Patienten weiter. Da ich erst seit einem Monat dabei bin und nur das Buch von Dr.Greger kenne, bin ich nicht über die vegane “Szene” im deutschsprachigen Raum informiert. Aber nach Ihren Ausführungen ist das kein Nachteil. Danke für Ihre ausführliche Antwort.




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  6. There were plenty of years I didn’t eat any rice in my SAD days. Appears there’ll be a few new years coming up. I pitched most of the last two batches of black rice I made. Can’t find out the country of origin and my heart just isn’t into eating _likely_ contaminated grains. I no longer eat from habit but only for health/hunger and enjoyment and socialization. Arsenic-laced rice doesn’t fit well in any category.

    I hope rice gets cleaned up sooner than later. I do enjoy the extreme variety of dishes with which it is traditionally served. But also the quickest way to get the attention of industry is to affect their cash flow. They’ll fight regulation, but they’ll comply for money.

    Too bad we are yet a tiny minority of folks.

    Eat well!




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    1. “the quickest way to get the attention of industry is to affect their cash flow. They’ll fight regulation, but they’ll comply for money.”

      This is so true!




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    1. Hi Baz and thanks for your question. While polycystic kidney disease is not discussed directly in the videos on this site, the same dietary principles hold true for maintenance of optimal kidney function with a whole food plant based diet. The avoidance of animal products, added sodium and dietary fats and cholesterols will all your kidneys to perform their required functions, as you can learn in this video: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/treating-chronic-kidney-disease-with-food/. I am also including a personal success story of a patient with PKD that followed Dr. Furhman’s nutritarian diet (again a fruit and vegetable rich WFPB diet) which resulted in a dramatic improvement in weight and blood pressure control and therefore fewer medications and greater general health: https://www.drfuhrman.com/learn/success-stories/743/stevens-story. I hope this helps you to achieve better health with your condition!




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  7. Arsenic is likely high in lots of californian-grown vegetables and fresh fruits. Decades upon decades of arsenic dumped into soil
    to grow the conventional produce, but even the organic farms are operating on old conventional dumping ground farms. Time for
    Dr. G to tell us what other crops are soaking up this arsenic. Apples, grapes, lots of greens, what else?




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    1. Remember Dr. Greger’s comment in the earlier video that rice is unusually effective in picking up arsenic? Other foods are not affected the same way.
      John S




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      1. Not true, from what i have read. Apples and grapes soak it up. Who knows what else? Brussel sprouts soak up arsenic, as do
        some leafy greens, as well as broccoli.




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        1. not true , most plants do not put As into edible portion of plant , apple, broccoli, kale and radish were fine in tests i have seen and just google it , the tests are on the internet




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  8. It’s really unfortunate that Dr. Greger is resorting to the same tactics as the keto/paleo/meatard crowd by literally resorting to n=1 worst case scenarios (the case of the celiac individual who ended up with arsenic poisoning).

    I guess I received the answer to my question posted under the last video. Does Dr. Greger care to explain why the countries with the highest level of rice consumption have the lowest overall incidence of cancer, and vice versa? Clearly the answer is no, judging from his continued refusal to address it.

    As previously noted, there’s obviously more to it than “Well, As increases cancer risk. There’s As in rice. Therefore, rice increases cancer risk.” Those countries where rice comprises the bulk of caloric intake (as previously mentioned, some of the countries with high rice consumption and low cancer incidence consume the equivalent of 16 servings A DAY), have limited access to, and therefore consumption of, more calorically dense foods like meat and dairy. Therefore they’re more likely to consume a lot more veggies and legumes with their rice.

    A fact Dr. Greger has glanced over in this series is that Asians, who tend to consume 10-20 times as much rice as Europeans / North Americans, tend to have much higher As concentrations in their urine, yet still have much lower overall incidence of cancer. Clearly their bodies are excreting the excess As. Could it be what they’re consuming with their rice? We don’t know, because Dr. Greger refuses to address the question.

    If we’re going to use the rationale that we shouldn’t eat anything that contains things that might be harmful, then may as well eliminate apples and potatoes (since they’re also high in arsenic), spinach, beet greens and almonds (high in oxalates), aubergine, sweet peppers and tomatoes (high in glycoalkaloid solanine), and the list can go on.

    Again, the way this series has been constructed does a disservice to promoting a plant-based diet. That’s not just my personal opinion, but one quietly shared by other doctors promoting a plant-based diet




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    1. They are eating non contaminated rice. Remember, it is not RICE that has arsenic, but contaminated rice. Please watch the entire series on arsenic in rice and you’ll find many of your questions answered.

      Lisa Schmidt, MS, CN, CYT
      Volunteer moderator




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      1. This link courtesy of Ernie’s earlier comment:

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26219234

        “Compared to participants with less than one serving per week, the multivariable RRs of overall cancer for individuals who ate at least five servings per week were 0.97 for total rice (95% CI: 0.85-1.07), 0.87 for white rice (95% CI: 0.75-1.01), and 1.17 for brown rice (95% CI: 0.90-1.26). Similar non-significant associations were observed for specific sites of cancers including prostate, breast, colon and rectum, melanoma, bladder, kidney, and lung… Long-term consumption of total rice, white rice or brown rice was not associated with risk of developing cancer in US men and women.”

        Americans eating lots of US-grown arsenic-contaminated rice had no significantly higher relative risk of any of the most common forms of cancer than those who ate little to no rice at all. Those eating lots of the arsenic-contaminated white rice actually had lower relative risk of cancer than those who ate little to none.

        That research link should be pinned to the top of this comment thread and Dr. Greger should respond to it. He should explain why he ‘cherry-picked’ that single case report of a person with celiac disease who had arsenic poisoning instead of addressing the research that clearly shows there is no increased relative risk, and actually possible benefit, of consuming rice wrt cancer risk.




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      2. Please not contradict the data is published in this page. Clearly the content in soil in Asia is contaminated with inorganic Arsenic. In one of the videos Dr. Greger put said. Median inorganic As content of rice (mg kg-1) are. Bangladesh 0.081, China 0.109, India 0.059, Italy 0.071 and US 0.088. So the rice in all countries are contaminated. May be one half than other but if they eat 4 times more… Is not the As but other thing that makes them less cancer prone. May be the 10 water per 1 rice cooking thing.

        See the table on 4:14 min in the video https://nutritionfacts.org/video/Cancer-Risk-from-Arsenic-in-Rice-and-Seaweed/




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      3. Lisa Schmidt – You keep repeating that same point over and over again. Look at the data and do some basic arithmetic. Yes, the Consumer Reports piece from 2012 showed that some US-grown rice from places like Louisiana and Arkansas contained 2-4 times as much inorganic Arsenic as rice grown in the large Asian rice exporting countries.

        But, as I have repeated numerous times, the lower income Asian countries that consume lots of rice (to exclude countries like S. Korea, Taiwan and Japan, which also consume lots of meat), consume 10-20 times as much rice as the average North American or European. Yet they have the lowest incidence of cancer, while those in North America and Europe have the highest.

        Even adjusting for the inorganic Arsenic content in the rice between regions, those Asian countries would still be consuming significantly more Arsenic from rice, up to 10 times as much, yet still have lower overall incidence of cancer.

        And this whole “Well, it’s the Arsenic contamination in US grown rice” argument fails even more miserably when the research on US populations showed that Americans who ate 5 times or more rice than their compatriots did not have any statistically significant difference in relative risk when looking at the most prevalent forms of cancer. In fact those who only ate white rice (like they do in most Asian countries), actually had lower relative risk of developing cancer.

        To sum up: No, the Arsenic in rice does not contribute to increased relative risk of cancer. Not in Asia, nor in the US. In fact, it appears the opposite is true. And no, it’s likely not just the rice, but what is consumed with the rice on a day to day basis that has an impact on relative cancer risk. By disingenuously flagging rice, a staple of plant-based diets around the world, as potentially dangerous to consume, Dr. Greger is doing a disservice to those promoting a plant-based diet.




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    2. That question is too complicated. Do Indians eat more turmeric? Yes. Mustard greens? Yes. Cauliflower? Yes. Many kinds of spices? Yes. Do they typically eat less meat than Americans? Yes. Is society constructed around families rather than around industrial profit? Yes. Do they spend more time in a sedentary video watching lifestyle? No. All of these are probably factors that could be teased out. It’s too hard to calculate.
      John S




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    3. Dr. Gregor is only stating that the rice in the USA has a high amount of Arsenic in it. The other countries have a lot lower amounts of Arsenic This is wonderful information.
      He is also telling how to reduce the amount of arsenic in your rice before you eat it. Again this is wonderful information.
      Why do you just want to complain?
      Thank you, Dr. Gregor, for this useful information.




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    4. Hi PP
      I really think you are missing the point. Go ahead. Obviously the stress of not eating rice is too much for you. So. Eat Basmati from, California, Pakistan, or India. Cook in plenty of water as you would pasta. Dump the water and rinse the rice. There ya go. 50% or more less arsenic.

      Dr. Greger is presenting data from research that is published. Not much you can do except post articles that refute.

      The one thing that can’t be ignored is that the rice plant itself takes up more arsenic than other plants. (See great review article written by the EWG) And here in America where cotton was grown we dumped tons of chicken manure.

      This topic has been in our radar for awhile. The EWG has been sending out articles.

      Just as you make the decision to eat white potatoes over purple potatoes you should be able to decide if you want to be cognizant of your rice consumption without getting mad at the messenger. (Dr. Greger) Seems pretty simple to me.




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      1. “The one thing that can’t be ignored is that the rice plant itself takes up more arsenic than other plants. (See great review article written by the EWG) And here in America where cotton was grown we dumped tons of chicken manure.”

        Arsenic was used on cotton as an insecticide. Has been used in chicken feed….not supposed be be used now.




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      2. WFPBRunner – No, I think you’re missing the point. There is absolutely no research showing a link between rice consumption and increased cancer risk. That is why Dr. Greger has yet to post any. The one thing he posted is an individual case where a person with celiac disease who consumed a lot of rice products developed arsenic toxicity.

        Here’s research that shows even Americans consuming 5 times or more of high arsenic US rice had no greater relative risk of the most common types of cancer than their compatriots who consumed little to no rice. Those who consumed lots of white rice actually had a lower relative risk:

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26219234

        As noted repeatedly on here, Asians who consume 10-20 times as much rice as North Americans and Europeans have among the lowest cancer incidence rates, while North Americans and Europeans have the highest. Even adjusting for the Arsenic content in the rice, Asians would be consuming up to 10 times as much Arsenic from rice. And as just noted, even Americans who eat a lot more rice don’t have an increases chance of getting cancer.

        That’s what the actual research says. What Dr. Greger is disingenuously doing is trying to get people to make the inference that Arsenic in rice is a major public health concern: “Arsenic can increase cancer risk. There’s Arsenic in rice. Therefore, rice increases cancer risk.” Most kids are taught in high school that this is flawed reasoning.

        The reason why what Dr. Greger is doing is wrong is that rice is a staple of plant-based diets all over the world. He is effectively doing a disservice to those promoting a plant-based diet.

        Qualifying this nonsense by saying, “Hey, eat quinoa!” is ridiculous for a number of reasons, not the least being it’s not readily available everywhere (as rice is), where it is available it costs many times what rice does and many people don’t digest it (and other seeds used as pseudo-grains) well.




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  9. HI,
    Easy to limit the rice consumption and increase non arsenic containing grains.. i.e. quinoa,bulgar,spelt. I’m just going to use it as a occasional grain.
    No big deal.. I’ll just roll with it.
    BTW the Public Television presentation of “How Not to Die” last nite was very good and entertaining also. Dr G is getting better in front of the camera!.
    I like the little “Greger” bounce when he excited when he talks…




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    1. Timothy Barr – Sulfur, selenium, vitamin C and a number of other nutrients abundant in a healthy plant-based diet all help ‘detox’ As. This may possibly help explain why, despite eating 10-20 times as much rice as North Americans and Europeans, Asian countries with the highest rice consumption have the lowest cancer incidence rates, and those that consume the least rice in North America and Europe have the highest cancer incidence rates. Think of what Asians eat with their rice: Greens, beans/lentils, mushrooms, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes… basically foods that contain all those nutrients that help reduce As concentration.

      But that’s the more holistic approach. Dr. Greger’s shtick increasingly seems to be just focusing on one potential nutrient or anti-nutrient and running down the rabbit hole with it.




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      1. poop patrol: Overall, Asians are eating less contaminated rice because their fields weren’t previously saturated with pesticides – that is a major component you seem to be missing. I believe eating organic Thai rice and using better cooking methods (soaking overnight, rinsing thoroughly, cooking like pasta) and controversy goes away. Peace.




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  10. Well one of the reasons that you may not see a bunch of Asians dropping dead from eating rice is that Dr. G said that the risk of getting cancer was about 1 in 300 from eating rice with some frequency. That means that there is a 99.67% chance of not getting cancer from eating rice alone. Yet over a third to 1/2 of people will get cancer in their lifetime presumably from other causes . So how would one even expect to see increased cancer in Asians from looking at the raw data. Even if you eat rice with every meal the risk is probably still not real high.

    I find the hysteria here about eating rice to be silly. I have really enjoyed this series on arsenic in rice. I look forward to hearing Dr. Gs final conclusions. I eat rice a few times a week and I’m not too worried. All this means is that we shouldn’t eat too much of any one thing. The dose makes the poison.




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    1. Nice find, Ernie. And its worth noting that this is a study of US men and women, presumably consuming mostly US-grown rice that’s much higher in Asi than Asian-grown rice.

      “Compared to participants with less than one serving per week, the multivariable RRs of overall cancer for individuals who ate at least five servings per week were 0.97 for total rice (95% CI: 0.85-1.07), 0.87 for white rice (95% CI: 0.75-1.01), and 1.17 for brown rice (95% CI: 0.90-1.26). Similar non-significant associations were observed for specific sites of cancers including prostate, breast, colon and rectum, melanoma, bladder, kidney, and lung… Long-term consumption of total rice, white rice or brown rice was not associated with risk of developing cancer in US men and women.”

      Which is why I’ve been enjoying heaps of rice along with either a stir-fry or lentil dish each day one of these “Arsenic in rice” videos has come out. According to this study, those who regularly consumed white rice actually had a lower relative risk of overall cancer than those who consumed little to no rice. So for today’s stir-fry, we’ll go with white Jasmine.




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    2. thanks Earnie, check out this analysis too https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25527760
      Looking at studies representing over 4.3 million person years, and over 12,300 cases of cardiovascular disease, they found NO association with rice consumption, even at greater than 5 times per week consumption. This was important to me since rice is third after fruit and vegies for contributing arsenic to the diet, and other than oats and rice I dont consume grains.




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  11. I am a volunteer moderator who helps Dr. Greger answer questions and respond to comments posted to NF. I am a plant based dietitian nutritional therapist based in Scottsdale, Arizona.

    It is so important to remember to eat A WIDE VARIETY OF WHOLE PLANT FOODS. Wide variety means we are not overly dependent on any one food item (like rice) and instead we vary our whole grain intake. With plants, varying our intake allows us to eat all the colors of the rainbow (red, purple, orange, yellow, green) which means we are getting all of our bioactive compounds from plant foods as synergistically they work together to promote optimal health. With rice, the big take away for me is the problem with arsenic concentrations in brown rice syrup, which as recently as three or four years ago was touted as the wonder sweetener that was healthier than evil cane sugar. Once again, eating a wide variety of whole fresh foods, means you’re not eating a lot (or any) sugar since it is not a whole plant food. Even though sugar promoters pushed certain forms of sugar as healthy (hello agave, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and coconut sugar) it is ALL THE SAME – it is SUGAR!!!!!!!!!!!!! With brown rice syrup, I consider it due to arsenic contamination off the list as a healthy food, and any processed food that contains it should be eliminated from all diets, especially kids.

    I’m now varying my intake of rice, limiting it to 1/2 a cup once or twice a week, and increasing my intake of quinoa, buckwheat, and other healthful grains. Processed food (which I eat rarely) that contains brown rice syrup is eliminated in my diet. We are purchasing Lundberg California grown rice (yes, more expensive) and rinsing it before cooking. And yes, I’m sleeping at night!

    Thanks for being part of our community!

    Lisa Schmidt, MS, CN, CYT
    Mindful Benefits
    Plant Based Docs




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    1. I’m not sure if I agree with you. Before the industrial revolution people had very limited variety in their diets as far as I know. Preserved foods were very limited. Canning and freezing, the two best preservation methods, were unavailable. Global trade was slow at best. I think dietary variety would have been very restricted: people just ate what was locally available and grew well in their local. In the middle east they ate barley and oats. South America, corn and potatoes. Asia, rice. Africa, millet and sorghum. Yet in ancient Indian texts of 2500 years ago, they talk of the general physical characteristics of people, one being that they live to about 80 years. This would seem to indicate that variety is not at all important for good health.




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      1. People did then, and poor country people still do eat many edible weeds.. I do this myself. They are on average, healthier than the plants you buy in a store because they haven’t had the nutrition bred out of them. They are also free and they grow like weeds.
        John S




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  12. For questions about arsenic levels in rice, please see the following videos:
    How much arsenic in Rice is too much

    For WHY there is arsenic in rice, and how it got there, and why organic rice is no less contaminated with arsenic than white rice, see this video:
    Where Does the Arsenic in Rice Come From?

    And finally, for the least contaminated sources of rice, see this video:
    Which Brands and Sources of Rice Has the Least Arsenic

    A wonderful thing about Nutrition Facts are the related videos in a series that tell a story about a topic. If you find a topic exciting, interesting, or even troublesome, you can ease your mind (sometimes!) by watching all of the videos in Dr. G’s series. I always look just below the video and read the Doctors Note to find other videos I can watch. If I’m feeling like I want to get to the point quickly, I’ll click on a video, then the tab above the Doctors Note called “transcript” and I’ll quickly read the digest of the video. If I’m feeling like I want more science based information, I’ll click on the tab above the Doctors Note called “Sources Cited” and review the research articles that were used by Dr. G in his telling of the story. I try to avoid getting too freaked out by comments posted, but sometimes, I can’t help it!!

    Thanks for being part of our community!

    Lisa Schmidt, MS, CN, CYT
    Mindful Benefits
    Plant Based Docs




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  13. I eat sprouted brown rice by Lundbergs. Am I correct in assuming that because this rice has been previously soaked and rinsed multiple times (and comes from California) that it is lower in arsenic than other brown rice?




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    1. Kathryn you can probably contact Lindbergh and get that information. It makes sense but they seem to be keeping track of that data.




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  14. As much as I love rice, I am among those who have given it up entirely because of this. Sadly, I learned about the arsenic problem after undoubtedly poisoning myself badly, as it used to be a daily staple of my diet comprising well over half of my daily food volume intake (think 2/3 of a pan per day or what might be 6 servings). I will be detoxing for quite a while.




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  15. Following up after watching some of these videos, I looked up a few articles, including the one from Consumer Reports which stated, “all types of rice, excluding quick cooking and sushi, from Texas, Arkansas, or Louisiana had higher levels of the substance than rice from any other part of the United States.”

    I have been using quick-cooking rices almost exclusively for several years, so I’m particularly interested in knowing more about how those differ from other rices, and maybe why. Does the parboiling process reduce the arsenic levels? If so, how much?

    Similarly, others might be interested to know why sushi rice was noted, if it is a significantly safer food, and how much.




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  16. Does anyone know of a store that sells hulled barley (barley groats) as opposed to pearl barley which is hull less? I assume Dr. Greger advocates eating the whole grain version which is not pearl barely. But I find organic hulled barley hard to find.




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    1. Denise, Bob’s Red Mill, among others, sells hull-less barley, which is NOT pearled but an older variety with looser hulls easily removed, often during harvest.
      Hulled barley must be processed carefully to avoid removing too much bran with the hull.
      Bon appetit!




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  17. Once again, an excessive amount of repeated information and you didn’t answer your own question posed in the title. Disappointing.




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  18. What are the cheapest alternatives to rice? Quinoa and other grains like barley are a bit to expensive for me to buy as a regular meal.




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  19. BUT I’M ASIAN! I eat lots and lots of rice. I’ve tried the pasta cooking method and it’s okay but Japanese rice is supposed to be sticky and that method leaves it decidedly un-sticky. What are Asians supposed to do? Don’t get me wrong, I eat other whole grains too, but rice is such a huge cultural mainstay that I am at a loss here. There’s a big part of me that doesn’t think it’s a meal if there’s no rice, and the stuff cooked in lots of water just doesn’t fit the bill. What’s an Asian American supposed to do?




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    1. Eat rice. Just buy it from a source that has the lower arsenic levels and remember that there is no association of higher cancer rates in people who eat a lot of rice. There are comments on here that have given links to that information.




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    2. Hi Emily, I am a volunteer moderator in NF team. It’s sad to know food from our cultures has been contaminated by humans negligence. Hopefully with time, the problem of sole contamination will be solved. Perhaps this video could help you to know the effects https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-effects-of-too-much-arsenic-in-the-diet/ and there’s another one for the brands you should better chose https://nutritionfacts.org/video/which-brands-and-sources-of-rice-have-the-least-arsenic/




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  20. Who would have thought?!?
    Rice is as controversial as eggs and coconut oil.
    People are really having a hard time with this……




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      1. But your IQ drops by a few points? Add in city air pollution….and some lead exposure….plus various estrogen mimicking chemicals…EMF exposure…and you might see 90 IQ or so?




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  21. How does the increased cancer risk from arsenic in rice compare to the increased cancer risk from eating highly processed meat or consuming dairy products with high levels of casein? Learning the relative risk involved in eating these various foods would help a lot in deciding what to do about them.




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  22. I found that one of the Soy milks I’ve been drinking has rice syrup added to it.
    Looks like I’ll need to check for rice as an ingredient from now on




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    1. I’ve elsewhere in this discussion mentioned an article, first cited by JL, that shows where arsenic is a current problem in Asia and where the problem’s getting worse.




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  23. Hello,

    This is my second request for a response. I’m having a love affair with an organic tortilla chip, which I eat every day – sometimes twice a day (I know – bad girl). Anyway, I contacted the company and this was their response. “Our supplier’s organic brown rice is grown in California, Uruguay and Argentina. For the varieties of our chips that contain organic brown rice, the content is about 4-5% of the overall Multigrain Chips. Should you choose to avoid the brown rice altogether, we do make many chip varieties without.”

    My questions is – is this too much rice?? It is the only rice-based food I eat since I’m not a rice lover.

    Thank you so much.




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  24. It’s difficult to calculate how many servings of rice we’re consuming while still enjoying the occasional packaged food:

    -Andean Dream Quinoa Pasta, Organic, first/main ingredient: White Rice
    -Mary’s crackers, Organic, which appear to be all seeds, first/main ingredient: Brown Rice

    I also have Brown Rice Garbanzo Crackers, Black Rice Tortillas and a rice based Pizza Crust.
    –all of the convenience foods that my gluten intolerant family has held on to as everything else has become whole or homemade from whole.

    Any chance the “USDA Organic” would choose a maximum allowable amount of arsenic for their certification?




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  25. If one was to really eliminate Arsenic, then you may as well stop eating all foods because they all contain some. The best thing with rice is to look for the brand that has the least contamination which could be the California vendors. Here is a response that kind of made me think twice about what Dr Greger is purporting which may be overly stated- http://www.foodinsight.org/rice-advice-arsenic-consumer-reports
    Let me know if this makes sense :)




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    1. I’d like to know the funding behind that website, since it so casually links Consumer Reports with Dr. Oz.
      It also says aspartame’s perfectly safe, as are meats, eggs, dairy, fish. Maybe, but…




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  26. My local store has quinoa at $2.99 a pound. That’s a comfortable price point for me till the sale goes off (from a bulk bin). Please understand about the necessity of washing this grain really well before cooking. There are prewashed versions available too but washing needs to be done to remove the outer coating that can be harmful.




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  27. Hi,

    Does anyone know if Enzymatically Processed Rice Protein from whole grain sprouted brown rice contains more or less arsenic than organic brown cooked rice?

    Thanks.




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      1. Thank you darchiterd – very useful information. Based on this information, I sure will reduce rice protein intake from now on – clearly ten servings per week is bit too much.




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  28. Like many health-conscious individuals, I have been eating lots of brown rice, unaware that it contains a large amount of arsenic. I am grateful to Dr. Greger for providing the information we need to make our own decisions concerning what we want to include in our diets. In the latest video, he suggested that we try whole grain rice alternatives. I took that as a culinary challenge. Since my local grocery stores carry a very limited variety of whole grains, mostly oatmeal, rice, and quinoa (even Whole Foods Market), I turned to the internet for sources of other whole grains. One company, Bob’s Red Mill in Milwaukie, Oregon, sells well over a dozen different types of whole grains. I ordered packages of a dozen kinds of whole grains including freekeh, millet, farro, kammut, and more that I had never tried before. Cooking instructions are on the packages and available on their web site. They even included a pamphlet on the microbiome with information from Oregon Health and Sciences University. So, thank you Dr. Greger, for your suggestion. I’m looking forward to this new culinary adventure.




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  29. While shopping my wife and I came across thi sbrand

    mightyrice.com

    On their website it states “At mighty rice®, we’re extremely proud of our rice purity and food safety. A U.S. consumer advocacy group and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tested around 1,300 rice and rice products, finding detectable levels of arsenic in most of them, even those labeled all-natural and organic. This is likely from the long-term use of pesticides containing arsenic and flood irrigation.

    Because of Mauritius’ environmental quality and the cultivation of our rice on dry land, our white rice was found by Dartmouth College to be below their limit of detection (<2 ppb).

    Recent testing by Eurofins in Germany also found white mighty rice® to be below their limit of detection (<1 ppb). This is among the lowest known levels for any rice variety worldwide.

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/62630897/mighty%20rice®%20%20long%20grain%20white%20rice_00000208_AR-16-FJ-000154-01.pdf




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  30. Are you sure you’re not going overboard with this Arsenic Poisoning Thing! I’ve Watched all of your Arsenic Videos and I feel like I’ve been Poisoned even though I don’t eat much Rice !!! Do Asians who eat a Lot More Rice than Americans, Have More Arsenic related diseases?? Do Asians have higher arsenic blood levels??




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    1. Hi, Mickey Garcia. If keeping you informed about issues that may affect your health is going overboard, then yes, we are. (smile and wink) If you’ve been following the entire series, then you know that arsenic contamination levels in soil and water varies greatly from one location to another. You also know that the source of that contamination is arsenic pesticides, now banned, but previously used heavily on cotton crops, and arsenic-based antibiotics given to poultry in large-scale farming operations, which come out in their manure. In addition, you know that rice absorbs arsenic so well that it may be used to help clean up contaminated soils, but should be discarded afterward, not eaten. Now you know that, for example, China has much stricter standards for arsenic contamination of food than the US does, and that some of the worst contamination is in the southern US. Until we have more information to offer, I hope that helps!




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  31. We are so grateful for all of this information on rice, but as a family with Celiac disease, can you possibly give us some natural ways to reduce (detoxify) the arsenic we have stored in our bodies? Any foods that bind arsenic and help eliminate it, etc? Thank you so much, Dr Gregor and team!




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  32. Hi Tanya, Thanks for your question. I am one of the volunteer dietitians at the site. I would suggest foods that are vitamin C rich such as fruits and vegetables which have a antioxidant properties.
    Leafy greens and cilantro has a powerful effect in detoxifying.

    Garlic and onions – These vegetables contain sulfur which helps your liver detoxify itself of heavy metals like lead and arsenic.
    Good quality Water – Drink 8 ounces of water or vegetable juice every two hours to help flush out toxins.
    Flax and chia seeds – Omega-3 fats and fiber can help with detoxification of the colon and reduce inflammation.
    Cancer, Interrupted: Garlic & Flavonoids
    The Cilantro Gene




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  33. I am a little confused.
    All these videos about arsenic in rice. Like weeks and weeks worth of videos.
    Wouldn’t that mean that heavy rice consuming areas like Japan and Thailand and China, would have severely high levels of arsenic in their bodies and be suffering a major increase in cancers compared to other countries who don’t eat as much rice?
    But if this were true, why don’t I hear about Arsenic poisoning from rice in Japan, or super elevated cancer levels from rice eaters in Thailand?
    It still seems like it might be possible that something in the rice, or the veggies eaten with them, contain something like high fiber, which clears most of this from your system, without hurting or endangering your body.
    I am not sure, but seems plausible.
    I am just surprised with all this scary info about arsenic and rice, we don’t hear any dire problems in every single one of the heavy duty rice eating countries.




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  34. “Severely high arsenic levels” is a relative term, and totally up to you as to its definition in this case. Would you say DOUBLE the arsenic levels as compared to a non-rice eater is severe? I would, and that’s exactly what was shown in this and other studies:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3491944/

    Why don’t you “hear” about arsenic poisoning? You’re only going to “hear” people that are “yelling” the loudest, which in this day and age is those with the most money in their advertising budgets like the industrial food complex, which I doubt would advertise that their products increase cancer risk. I would urge you to not just “hear” but actively seek out the best available evidence by searching through the peer-reviewed clinical studies like Dr. Greger does. That said, I have not seen that any studies that have directly looked at the link between rice and cancer have been done, so there is nothing to “hear” about….yet…. but the same level of increase in human arsenic levels that is clearly associated with rice intake has been shown in other studies to significantly increase cancer risk.

    What you propose, that there is something else that may be protective could certainly be true, but there is no data to even suggest this, so its just wishful thinking at this point. Do you feel lucky? I don’t, so I’ve switched to alternate grains/seeds such as amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, farro and sorghum that have much lower arsenic levels and taste great.




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