Is White Rice a Yellow-Light or Red-Light Food?

Is White Rice a Yellow-Light or Red-Light Food?
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Do the health benefits of rice consumption outweigh any potential risk from the arsenic contamination?

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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.

Arsenic is not just considered a carcinogen, but a so-called “nonthreshold carcinogen,” meaning that there really isn’t a quote-unquote “safe” level of exposure. “[A]ny dose, no matter how small, [may carry] some cancer risk.” So, “it may be reasonable to…use the conservative ALARA” approach, reducing exposure “as low as reasonabl[y] achievable.”

I have a low bar for recommending people avoid foods that aren’t particularly health-promoting in the first place, like when that acrylamide story broke, the chemical found concentrated in French fries and potato chips, I was like, look, we’re not sure how bad this acrylamide stuff is, but we’re talking about French fries and potato chips, which are not healthy anyway. So, I had no problem provisionally bumping them from my list of yellow-light foods into my red-light list, from “minimize consumption,” to “ideally avoid on a day-to-day basis.”

One could apply the same logic here. Junk foods made out of brown rice syrup, rice milk, and white rice are not just processed foods but arsenic-contaminated processed foods; so, they may belong down here. But, something like whole brown rice is more difficult, because there are pros to help outweigh the cons.

The rice industry argues that “[t]he many health benefits of rice consumption outweigh any potential risk.” That’s the same thing you hear coming out of Japan about the arsenic-contaminated seaweed hijiki. Yeah, “the cancer risk posed by hijiki consumption exceeds… acceptable” cancer risk levels by an order of magnitude, but the Japanese Ministry of Health stresses the potential “health benefits,” lots of “fiber and minerals,” as if hijiki was the only weed in the sea. Why not choose any of the other seaweeds and get all the same benefits without the arsenic?

And, the same thing here. “The many health benefits of rice consumption outweigh any potential risk”—as if brown rice was the only whole grain on the planet. Can’t you get the whole grain benefits without the risks by eating oatmeal instead, or barley, or quinoa? Or, is there some unique benefit to rice, such that we really should try to keep rice in our diet?

Consumer Reports recommended moving rice to here, not necessarily avoid it completely, but moderate one’s intake. The rice industry criticized Consumer Reports for warning people about the arsenic levels in rice, saying there’s “a body of scientific evidence that establishes…the nutritional benefits of rice consumption; [so,] any assessment of the arsenic levels in rice that fails to take this information into account is inherently flawed and very misleading.” They cite two pieces of evidence. Rice-consuming cultures tend to be healthier, but is that because of or despite their white rice consumption? What about rice-eating Americans tending to be healthier? Yeah, but they also ate significantly less saturated fat; so, how do you know it’s because of or despite the white rice?

They could have cited this study showing “brown rice intake ([two or more] servings [a] week…) was associated with a lower risk of diabetes.” But, presumably the reason they didn’t is because “white rice [intake is] associated with an [increased] risk of…diabetes,” and white rice represents 95% of the U.S. rice industry. Switching out a third of a serving of white rice a day for brown rice might lower diabetes risk 16%, but switching out that same white rice for whole grains in general, like oats or barley, might work even better! So, other grains have like 10 times less arsenic and are associated with even lower disease risk. No wonder the rice industry doesn’t cite this study.

They do cite the Adventist studies, though, and some in vitro data. For example, in a petri dish, there are rice phytonutrients that can inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells, at greater and greater doses, while apparently leaving normal colon cells alone. That’s exciting—and indeed, those who happened to eat those phytonutrients in the form of brown rice once a week or more between colonoscopies had a 40% lower risk of developing polyps. (The consumption of green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, and beans were also associated with lower polyp incidence). But, the only reason we care about the development of polyps is that polyps can turn into cancer. But, there had never been studies on brown rice consumption and cancer, until now, which we’ll cover, next.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Kevin, Chad Remsing, Arthur Shlain, Artem Kovyazin, pablo, Denis Shumaylov, Laymik, H Alberto Gongora, and Cédric Villain from The Noun Project

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.

Arsenic is not just considered a carcinogen, but a so-called “nonthreshold carcinogen,” meaning that there really isn’t a quote-unquote “safe” level of exposure. “[A]ny dose, no matter how small, [may carry] some cancer risk.” So, “it may be reasonable to…use the conservative ALARA” approach, reducing exposure “as low as reasonabl[y] achievable.”

I have a low bar for recommending people avoid foods that aren’t particularly health-promoting in the first place, like when that acrylamide story broke, the chemical found concentrated in French fries and potato chips, I was like, look, we’re not sure how bad this acrylamide stuff is, but we’re talking about French fries and potato chips, which are not healthy anyway. So, I had no problem provisionally bumping them from my list of yellow-light foods into my red-light list, from “minimize consumption,” to “ideally avoid on a day-to-day basis.”

One could apply the same logic here. Junk foods made out of brown rice syrup, rice milk, and white rice are not just processed foods but arsenic-contaminated processed foods; so, they may belong down here. But, something like whole brown rice is more difficult, because there are pros to help outweigh the cons.

The rice industry argues that “[t]he many health benefits of rice consumption outweigh any potential risk.” That’s the same thing you hear coming out of Japan about the arsenic-contaminated seaweed hijiki. Yeah, “the cancer risk posed by hijiki consumption exceeds… acceptable” cancer risk levels by an order of magnitude, but the Japanese Ministry of Health stresses the potential “health benefits,” lots of “fiber and minerals,” as if hijiki was the only weed in the sea. Why not choose any of the other seaweeds and get all the same benefits without the arsenic?

And, the same thing here. “The many health benefits of rice consumption outweigh any potential risk”—as if brown rice was the only whole grain on the planet. Can’t you get the whole grain benefits without the risks by eating oatmeal instead, or barley, or quinoa? Or, is there some unique benefit to rice, such that we really should try to keep rice in our diet?

Consumer Reports recommended moving rice to here, not necessarily avoid it completely, but moderate one’s intake. The rice industry criticized Consumer Reports for warning people about the arsenic levels in rice, saying there’s “a body of scientific evidence that establishes…the nutritional benefits of rice consumption; [so,] any assessment of the arsenic levels in rice that fails to take this information into account is inherently flawed and very misleading.” They cite two pieces of evidence. Rice-consuming cultures tend to be healthier, but is that because of or despite their white rice consumption? What about rice-eating Americans tending to be healthier? Yeah, but they also ate significantly less saturated fat; so, how do you know it’s because of or despite the white rice?

They could have cited this study showing “brown rice intake ([two or more] servings [a] week…) was associated with a lower risk of diabetes.” But, presumably the reason they didn’t is because “white rice [intake is] associated with an [increased] risk of…diabetes,” and white rice represents 95% of the U.S. rice industry. Switching out a third of a serving of white rice a day for brown rice might lower diabetes risk 16%, but switching out that same white rice for whole grains in general, like oats or barley, might work even better! So, other grains have like 10 times less arsenic and are associated with even lower disease risk. No wonder the rice industry doesn’t cite this study.

They do cite the Adventist studies, though, and some in vitro data. For example, in a petri dish, there are rice phytonutrients that can inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells, at greater and greater doses, while apparently leaving normal colon cells alone. That’s exciting—and indeed, those who happened to eat those phytonutrients in the form of brown rice once a week or more between colonoscopies had a 40% lower risk of developing polyps. (The consumption of green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, and beans were also associated with lower polyp incidence). But, the only reason we care about the development of polyps is that polyps can turn into cancer. But, there had never been studies on brown rice consumption and cancer, until now, which we’ll cover, next.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Kevin, Chad Remsing, Arthur Shlain, Artem Kovyazin, pablo, Denis Shumaylov, Laymik, H Alberto Gongora, and Cédric Villain from The Noun Project

181 responses to “Is White Rice a Yellow-Light or Red-Light Food?

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    1. I know he has a problem with white potatoes, and I already eat oatmeal in the morning. My meals are very similar to each other to begin with.

      What are some rice alternatives? I get my brown rice for 82 cents a pound.




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      1. Hi, Clint Sevilla. Rice is really inexpensive, which is why it is a staple food for much of the world. I understand that it is challenging to find alternatives that are comparable in cost. If it is an option for you, it may be worth paying more for healthier food. Compared to the cost of treating cancer, quinoa, millet, teff, freekeh, buckwheat, and other grains/pseudograins might just be a bargain. As far as white potatoes are concerned, Dr. Greger is not really against them, he simply posits that sweet potatoes offer more health benefits than white potatoes. You mention that your meals are very similar to each other. Variety is important in a healthy diet. It might be time to expand your horizons to the extent you are able to do so. I hope that helps!




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        1. For me, it’s not so much that the cost of rice is an issue, it’s the taste factor: I simply love my brown rice & eat it daily. Buckwheat & quinoa are great alternatives (and I usually add them to salads) but they are definitely not a staple in my diet.




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    2. I can often find whole wheat at around 60 cents per pound. Pressure cook it and enjoy like rice. Barley can often be found for similar. Oats, not too much more.




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      1. I wish there were an edit feature.
        I checked some prices of a couple of popular brands of organic brown rice and organic corn grits on Amazon. A 6 bag pack of brown rice was 20 cents per serving while a 4 bag pack of grits was 28 cents per serving; 40% more, but still fairly cheap as far as food goes.

        https://www.amazon.com/Lundberg-Organic-Short-Grain-32-Ounce/dp/B005763K40/ref=sr_1_4_s_it?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1502469611&sr=1-4&keywords=organic%2Bbrown%2Brice&th=1
        https://www.amazon.com/Bobs-Red-Mill-Organic-Polenta/dp/B004VLVN78/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1502469275&sr=8-1&keywords=organic%2Bcorn%2Bgrits&th=1

        {The 25 lbs bag of grits works out to just 12 cents per serving}




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              1. If there was an edit feature…then “they” couldn’t hold anything you post against you?

                Probably doing research on attitudes and so forth?




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        1. According to this NF video, https://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-gmos-safe-the-case-of-bt-corn/, even GMO corn is safe and wholesome. EWG’s latest food guide puts corn at #50, last on the list of pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables. That is, corn was the cleanest food tested. So it really doesn’t seem that there is a very good reason to buy organic corn. Conventionally grown corn is also ultra cheap, like brown rice. If you need any more convincing, Dr. McDougall is a big proponent of corn. Also the staple of the Kenyan diet is corn. The fastest people in the world (Olympic races) are from Kenya. Corn (conventional) is going to become a staple of my diet.




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          1. I like white rice because it is a relatively bland filler food. Have recently been making cold tacos using soft white corn tacos…have some flavor.

            I was making corn bread using Red Mill cornbread mix plus some stone ground corn….stopped when the cornbread mix price increased by 50%. Now making whole wheat muffins….whole wheat… when not using some regular flour with it… makes a strong tasting muffin.




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            1. You might try something like emmer flour or farro flour for your muffins if you can find it. I think you can find it on amazon. I love farro (an ancient form of wheat) it doesn’t have a strong flavor it kind of reminds me of brown rice.




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        1. Blair, I’m a big fan of glutinous mocha and short grain Cal rose style rices so the stickiness of oat groats is just a bonus for me!
          If that’s not your thing, then hulled whole grain barley would be a better choice…




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    3. Same. I eat brown rice two or three times a day. I also eat a lot of potatoes which are contaminated with DDE’s, chlordane and dioxins. Need to find some clean, cheap starches. Am upping my corn intake for one.




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      1. I’ve been eating a fair amount of organic potatoes and TJ corn tortillas which I dry grill in a stainless steal skillet before spreading them with refried beans and a little peanut butter before stuffing them with tofu and assorted veg for tacos. I love those things.




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    4. Eat rice congee with bone broth. The rice will expand and therefore make you eat less rice, plus it is delicious and nutritious. Add onion, garlic, mushroom and ant vegetables that you want,




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    5. I think a 50/50 mix of steel cut oats and millet tastes pretty close to rice. You can cook it with a rice cooker with the same ratio of water.




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    6. Just bought bulk (25 lbs.) organic grains on Amazon that had free shipping with Prime. Millet and barley came in right around $2 a pound, quinoa was $3 a pound. Don’t know if you have the ability to purchase that much and have a dry cool place for storage, but we’ve been buying 25 lb bags of grains and beans for years. Here’s some links:
      https://www.amazon.com/Great-River-Organic-Milling-25-Pound/dp/B0049YK1FC/ref=pd_sim_325_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=V8532TZ8T469RC0YT0FP
      https://www.amazon.com/Great-River-Organic-Milling-25-Pound/dp/B0049YP724/ref=pd_sim_325_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=AT1SNZGN7HCEHYMDDMQQ
      https://www.amazon.com/TRI-COLOR-QUINOA-ORGANIC-ROYAL/dp/B01EGNTZ3Y/ref=pd_sim_325_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=3Z9J3CRHAN36BAVYSX0A

      I’m sure the FedEx delivery person thinks we’re crazy preppers but we actually go through the grains and beans fast enough and save enough money to justify buying this way,




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        1. The beans (which I usually order online directly from Eden Foods) and the grains come in heavy paper sacks. I buy Homer buckets at the Home Depot because they’re cheap and I store the bags inside them. The buckets aren’t food grade, but since the food is kept in the heavy paper sacks it doesn’t ever come in direct contact. The buckets have a well sealing lid which I keep firmly on. I have a dry, cool, basement laundry room and keep the buckets stacked on some old utility shelving in there. I usually fill larger size mason jars with a variety of dry good and keep those on open shelves in my kitchen. Looks pretty and is more convenient than running downstairs all the time.

          Length of storage isn’t an issue because we use everything frequently. But to put this into some perspective there have been grains found in ancient tombs that were unspoiled and successfully germinated! So if you are able to keep everything dry and avoid temperature fluctuations you should be fine. Just to give you a better idea, I quickly checked the “expiration dates” on two bags of the grains I just got and they were 2/2019 and 2/2019.




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    7. I’ve been using this arsenic rice thing as the perfect excuse to eat more organic whole wheat penna pasta, a personal guilty pleasure, more often.
      It’s not as healthy as intact, whole grain, but at least it is still whole grain, and it can be had for $1.49/lb.




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    8. Variety is the spice of life. Barley isnt expensive, neither is quinoa or oats. I am inspired to not focus so hard on rice but on a variety of whole grains, in smaller quantities. I used to eat rice like popcorn. Buttered and salted. No more of that.




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    9. For economy try the 20# or bigger bags at the international market nearest where you live. Volume buying yo. Possibly you can find country of origin information on yours.

      That’s where I have to go to find black rice, and they have all colors and bags much bigger than 20#.

      Also-beware of pantry moths, I can only keep starches in metal or glass, they’ll punch right through plastic and paper.




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        1. I’m using 1/2 gallon canning jars mostly, as well as smaller canning jars. Gallon-sized glass jars can be handy too, but unlike canning jars- new lids my be difficult to source. Lard stands are the metal containers I’m referring to. I can get them at the corner country market/hardware store. They’re just large cans (5-gallon-ish) with slip-on lids that were originally used for keeping rendered hog fat. They’re good for keeping out mice as well. Non-food items store safely in surplus military ammo cans. No I’m not a “prepper”.




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          1. Try keeping some “pantry moth traps” around near your supply. They are reasonably priced, can be found online or in hardware/big box stores and are great for making sure your grains and beans don’t get buggy. I also am probably suspected of being a “prepper” by our FedEx delivery person. But in reality I’m just a frugal vegetarian.




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    10. Your local Indian grocery store will have very good prices on basmati rice (from India so very little arsenic) and beans (chickpeas, lentils).




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      1. I got pantry moths from buying from Indian stores (they are also called Indian moths – if that tells you anything). If you do buy from Indian stores, put it into the freezer for a week right when you get home from the grocery store to kill the larvae. You do NOT want to get an infestation like I did the first time! I had to throw out over $200 worth of food that was ruined before I figured it out.




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      1. @Clint Sevilla As far as whole grains go, I usually find brown rice to be the least expensive but there are a lot of great tasting and inexpensive alternatives! Keep an eye out for whole grain barley, rye, oats, teff, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, farro, bulgur, and kamut. I normally go with Bob’s Red Mill brand myself but bulk bins will be your best bet as far as cost.

        Best of luck!




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        1. Please tell me,if you live in the U.S. where you buy whole grain barley? Do you have an organic source? I only seem to find pearl barley and hullless barley which I believe is the same thing.




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          1. It can be had in the bulk bin section at Whole Foods or the like. You can also find it bagged up at many groceries stores sold under the Bob’s Red Mill brand section, and you can always order from an online vendor.




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          2. I agree with Joe. Keep in mind that “pearl” is not considered the whole-grain as it’s had the bran and germ removed. Hulled and hull-less have not had the bran or germ removed so are considered the whole grain.




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  1. Hi there,

    This does not seem the best place to share this, but there is no way to just email you. So here goes. I’ve recently learned that people who use convenience services like Uber rate their lives better. I really believe food made more convenient doesn’t have to be less healthy. My family has ventured into meal delivery to help with weekly meals. My kids like the process of picking the meal & then making it with detailed directions. It would be fantastic to learn that NutritionFacts.org & Blue Apron or Purple Carrot were collaborating to fullfill the daily dozen recommendations with tasty recipes & food. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Lastly, I love these videos and the integrity of this organization. I refer all my friends and family; however to have to randomly come upon the videos for all the supplements recommended and not include them in the Daily Dozen doesn’t seem best practice. I’ve been following the advisement of the Daily Dozen for over a year. I was getting very fatigued and brain fog this summer. I came across the information on B12. I started taking it and felt much better within a week or two. It left me a bit upset that this supplement wasn’t included in the Daily Dozen when it is so vital to health as well as Vitamin D and DHA. I don’t know if there are more.

    Again I love this resource and very much appreciate the efforts of all who make it available to the public.




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    1. hi Jacquelyn Kent, below the comments section you’ll find a link for Contact information. If I was considering submitting a proposal, I would probably consider preparing a hard copy along with a cover letter, and sending it to the street address shown on the Contact page. (just an idea.. maybe I misread your post?) Good luck with your future endevours!

      Also, this page https://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/ is a good reference to keep handy when sharing info on wfpb eating with friends and family.




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      1. oh sorry Jacquelyn, I guess I did misread your post.. I thought you and your family were planning to do recipe planning etc and offer them online. My apologies. (wish we could edit :)




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    2. Jacquelin,

      I just noticed that my Daily Dozen app has been updated and now includes B12 and D – the only supplements I think Dr G recommends. We’ve been away for three weeks and I hadn’t looked at the app for a week or two before our trip, so I’m not sure when the update took place.




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    3. I was just thinking: why not contact some of those companies and see if they couldn’t do it on their own and then advertise that they include the daily dozen?




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    4. WFPB suppliers would be very welcome. Unhealthy food is available within minutes at millions of drive thru’s nationwide. Such a vast investment. Healthy food, well, you’re on your own to a much greater degree. Having 8oz or 16oz mashed sweet potato with nothing added would be nice to have commercially. Trusting a restaurant not to improve the flavor by adding SOS is dicey.




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  2. I’ve noticed that recently Dr G has referenced Consumer Reports in some videos. I lost faith in CR after noticing that they don’t seem to have a problem with ice cream and dairy products. On their website today, they evaluate the best ice cream and frozen yogurts! Haven’t they heard about the research on dairy products from people like T Colin Campbell and NutritionFacts.org?

    https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/ice-creams-frozen-yogurts.htm




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  3. I don’t understand this series about rice and cancer. Isn’t it a fact that the bulk of Asians (or at least the rural poor Asians) eat white rice several times a day? I don’t recall reading anywhere about an epidemic of cancer among these populations.




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    1. There is theory and there is reality , the videos done on arsenic in rice is in theory . Even if you take the 1 out of 300 people who might get cancer , that is like a one third of one per cent. Yet the actual cancer rate currently is 33 % get cancer in america now. What causes all that cancer?
      rice?




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    2. I’m not sure this series has a sense of proportion (not least in length).

      Probabilistic modeling of dietary arsenic exposure and dose and evaluation with 2003–2004 NHANES data

      The mean inorganic arsenic exposure [in the general U.S. population] from food is 0.05 μg/kg/day (1.96 μg/day), which is approximately two times higher than the mean inorganic arsenic exposures from the drinking water. The major food contributors to inorganic arsenic exposure were the following: vegetables (24%); fruit juices and fruits (18%); rice (17%); beer and wine (12%); and flour, corn, and wheat (11%).”




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      1. Thanks so much for your posts Darryl. I was trying to find more info on arsenic in vegies and so far cruciferous veg and broad leaf veg appear to be highest in some testing. http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/foods-and-beverages-high-arsenic I am not a fan of prevention magazine, but a doctor quoted there recommends eating brussel sprouts kale, broccoli etc infrequently due to arsenic. Everyone has different preferences, but I am hoping that if I don’t consume beer, wine, corn wheat or flour products, meat, and rarely rice, then I would think vegie consumption isnt something I have to worry a lot about.
        And, if cooking in water removes some of the arsenic from rice, wouldn’t boiling /blanching veg do the same? All the best to you,




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        1. Note that the experts distinguish between organic arsenic, and inorganic arsenic, which is considered much more toxic. Organic arsenic is rapidly excreted, mostly as dimethylarsinic acid, while inorganic arsenic is metabolized to the carcinogens MMA and DMA which hang around longer. If one were only to look at total arsenic, seafood has many times the amount as rice. The concern, perhaps unfounded, with a variety of plant foods is that more of their arsenic is in the inorganic form.

          [In Hong Kong](http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512007478), only two plant foods (water spinach and mango) had inorganic arsenic contents greater than that of rice, though a number (like watercress and garlic) approached rice levels. They get about 53% of their inorganic arsenic from cereals, reflecting the greater contribution of rice to their diet.

          If inorganic arsenic has a dose-response curve that reflects hormesis (at low-doses, no harms and perhaps small benefits), then the absence of evidence for elevated risk in Americans with drinking drinking water up to 190 μg/L (19 times the EPA limit) suggests an ample margin of safety in just about any plant based diet.




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          1. First, Inorganic arsenic compounds have completely different chemical structures than organic arsenic compounds. Unfortunately, inorganic arsenic binds to living cells and disrupts their metabolisms which destroys the cells. Basically inorganic arsenic in the body can lead to cell death. Our body has specific chemical pathways that reduce the toxicity of organic arsenic compounds. The greater concern about inorganic arsenic compounds is founded on a solid scientific basis https://www.wired.com/2012/02/on-rice-and-arsenic/.

            I think part of the problem here is separating out what is caused only by inorganic arsenic consumption . There are so many variables that are related to cancer that it is incredibly difficult to tease out how much cancer consumption of inorganic arsenic might be responsible for. Then there’s the issue that arsenic poisoning can happen very slowly so you may not even see the results of regularly consuming larger amounts of inorganic arsenic in the population until much later. Remember arsenic can accumulate in different body tissues. However, there may also be plants that help remove arsenic including possibly cilantro, parsley, and aloe vera. I found this article to be enlightening : https://umaine.edu/arsenic/health-effects-of-arsenic/




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      1. Taboos Brown, Thanks for your comment. I am one of the volunteer moderators at the site. I understand people frustration about rice and the research on Arsenic. The points to remember is be aware of the method of cooking, origin or rice, mixing with antioxidents to reduce Arsenic content. Also as noted other parts of the world food habits are different for example less consumption of meat. Soil contaminents and environmental toxins have changed over time. Application of pesticides and herbesides has adverse effect towards the environment as you know. Dr Greger has a video on that I shall share with you.
        Are GMOs Safe? The Case of Roundup Ready Soy




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      2. You have to consider the change in mass production, e.g., New pesticides etc. What was true in the past might not be true now.

        However, he does tend to be very wonkish on health issues. I think he should come out with a list or system that categorizes foods as avoid, good, better, and best, which also includes a budget conscious version.




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        1. The red-yellow-green light ratings are done for a simplified take. White rice is now red light, which is at major odds with conventional wisdom of so many people. Wonky but that is what the current science would indicate, some unacceptable risk based on what is known or suspected about arsenic, as well as being a processed food, causing insulin spikes etc. Billions of peoples experience eating it for hundreds of years without gross issues is stacked against dozens of nutrition scientists. Have we just not looked carefully enough at what it’s doing to people? China has already issued arsenic limits, they may have to lead the advance of the science as the US administration a bit rooted in the past.




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    3. but they have traditionally eaten far less meat than we do. I met a Korean lady in a restaurant here and she said, “Americans eat SO MUCH MEAT!!!”




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    4. Isn’t the arsenic problem a relatively recent one though? Isn’t it caused by an abnormal buildup of pesticides in the rice paddies? Even if this only became a crisis within the last 50 years, you possibly wouldn’t yet see cancer epidemics. Also, have you looked at cancer rates in Japan for the last 50 years? Traditionally, they have been a healthy population, but that can change at anytime. Look at China. They used to be considered one of the healthier populations due to their diets. Now, after 50 years on the SAD diets, they are just as unhealthy as us!




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    5. Mel, Dr. G isn’t saying that there are cancer epidemics in Asia due to rice consumption. But whatever the cancer rates are in Asia, arsenic may play a role, even if their cancer rates are much lower than in the US. Cancer rates in the US are high for a myriad of reasons and one those could possibly be because of the high arsenic content in rice grown in the south central region of the country.

      Even if the the cancer rate is 1 in every 300,000 people, who wants to be the one to get it?




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    6. Hi, Mel Helfand. If you have been following the entire series, then you know that the arsenic in rice is absorbed from the soil and water in which it is grown. Arsenic contamination of soil and water vary greatly from one place to another. You might want to revisit these for a recap:
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/which-brands-and-sources-of-rice-have-the-least-arsenic/
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/where-does-the-arsenic-in-rice-mushrooms-and-wine-come-from/
      I hope that helps!




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  4. Hi Ignatius,
    Thanks for your question. I am one of the moderators at the website. The new research and new findings that Dr Greger brings out to us helps us make a better decision for our health. After all Knowledge is power. So after all these series we can be more aware of the contaminant Arsenic and consumption of rice and method of cooking and origin of rice. As for cause of cancer is multifactorial. Food and diet and life style are some of the factors as well as emotions and envirnment to name a few. When we learn more about the environmental factors we can hopefully make better decision what to choose to stay away from being that 33 percent. I wish you good health.




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  5. spring03 said… After all Knowledge is power…. Use the knowledge as you see fit… If you don’t care much about arsnic or REALLY love eating rice, go for it.. The Rice police is not going to your house to stop you. Like getting X-rays… We used ALARA in that profession also.. If you need it or want it go ahead but use the lowest allowable limit to get what you want..
    For me, I now have the scientific knowledge and will make an informed decision… More Farro, Barley and quinoa.. Then again, If I get invited to someones house and they are serving rice I’m not gonna freak out.. I’ll just eat a bit and eat more veg… YMMV…
    mitch




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  6. My solution is to avoid rice from Texas/Arkansas and do California brown rice alone. And I’m looking into fruits and vegetables containing arsenic because rice isn’t the only common food that contains arsenic.




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    1. I emailed the California rice company named Hinode about where their long-grain brown rice was sourced from. They mostly sell Calrose medium grain rice, but also offer long-grain brown. Their reply is interesting to me:

      “All companies source Long grain from the South: AR,TX,LA,MS areas except for Lundberg organic/CA.
      Cost to sell Long grain from CA is 4 times that of the South, so no one grows it anymore.”




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      1. I just invested in several pounds of med grain brown rice from bobs red mill. The company assured me that their rice was grown in Cali, which is why I purchased it. If this was a lie, I’m gonna go ballistic.




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    2. As a Texan I’m gonna email Cornyn and the FDA about arsenic. It’s a shame we have naturally low arsenic in water in north Texas at least and have this contamination. Certainly weevils were a terrible issue and no suprise they took extreme measures to control. There are some ferns which hyperaccumulate arsenic, we need a remediation program. The ferns can suck up grams per kg of the stuff at 10-100 higher levels than what is in the soil.




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    3. Or you can go to your local Indian grocery store and get basmati rice (low in arsenic) from India. Rice has been the staple diet of Indians for millenia and they are a lean and healthy people for the most part.




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    1. George – good point re turmeric.

      Of course it’s not just turmeric. Many other nutrients found in plants also help with Arsenic elimination / ‘detox’, including vitamin C, selenium and sulphur… you know, things commonly found in foods that tend to be consumed with white rice in traditional Asian diets, like greens, beans/lentils, mushrooms, onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes.

      This is another one of the growing number of questionable series Dr. Greger’s undertaken focusing on a single (anti)nutrient and ultimately losing sight of the big picture.




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        1. He is simply reporting on the research. Would you rather he didn’t discuss the topic and let the EWG and Consumer Reports report only? It is a food topic and therefore belongs here.

          You really don’t think he has read Whole? Really? He appears on stage with Dr. Campbell and yet you don’t think he has read his book?

          Might I recommend you acquaint yourself with the WFPB community of lecturers.

          Knowledge is power-so thank you Dr. Greger for covering this topic to this degree.




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        2. Couldn’t agree more. This is reductionism at it’s finest and for me Dr. Greger has lost a bit of credibility with this series.

          Why 13 videos on this series? Are they running out of content to present? This information could be easily been presented in 1 – 2 videos. Aside from the weekly viewers of this website, who will even watch this series for over an hour which is extremely repetitive? I used to think the goal of this website was to distill the research and present it in an understandable and concise way. This series is redundant and has painfully dragged on for weeks.

          Dr. McDougall says it best when he explains that it is the water and not the rice: https://youtu.be/CCu26Jw6-9k?t=33m36s

          He is a doctor that has been on the front lines helping people improve and restore their health in real life situations. This series is a perfect example of reductionism and research that is conducted in offices and laboratories.

          In my opinion, these types of videos only add to the mass confusion our society has around diet and nutrition. As a result, those who are trying to make better decisions for themselves will feel that same sense of discouragement and will deter them from taking that next step. I personally know so many people I’ve worked with who have the intentions to make better decisions but don’t know where or how to start especially when they’re so used to the “convenience” of our food system. If rice is off the menu, then many of the restaurants in my area that you can eat WFPB are out of question and I’m confident that don’t have barley or oat groats available as a substitute. And forgot the minimum serving amount of rice for the week, who even eats such a small amount and what’s the point?

          Some of us who are hyper-health conscious will have the time and to soak and boil our rice for each meal, but the majority of people wouldn’t even think twice about doing this. Personally, I’m very dedicated to cooking 95% of my meals at home WFPB and just the thought of soaking and boiling the rice at a 6:1 ratio is just another thing to obsess about. I live at high altitude and used a pressure cooker to cook brown rice 4 dry cups at a time so I have food ready in the fridge throughout the week for my family to make life easier and the thought of soaking the rice overnight and boiling it in 1 1/2 gallons of water then draining it (who knows what is lost in the drained water) is unappealing to me.

          I often feel these videos lose sight of the big picture and ignore the practical changes people can starting making everyday to improve their health. It seems the target audience for these videos are the hyper-health conscious individuals and I don’t see how this is beneficial to educate and empower the MAJORITY of people to make better decisions regarding their diet and lifestyle.

          Nutrionfacts – too much reductionism and it’s time to take a big step back and reassess what the goals of these videos are.

          Thank you to jj and poop patrol for bringing some perspective into the comments sections throughout this series.




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      1. So PP do you think that when a researcher studies the question of arsenic in rice she too is wasting her time? This is a nutrition site whose main function is to report current nutrition research. Your lack of understanding of research and your insulting comments on covered topics is boring. You saw the schedule–sign off until it is done.




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        1. WFPBRunner – If you think this video series makes a coherent case for a link between rice consumption and cancer, not really sure what to tell you. You’ve been had? Not in one of the umpteen videos Dr. Greger has pumped out in this nonsensical series so far has he cited a single credible population study supporting that link. He’s cited a celiac patient case study, a literally n=1 argument. He’s cited studies showing high As levels in water cause As toxicity. The only credible research that he’s come close to citing is that study he left as a cliff hanger at the end of this video. You can look it up for yourself. It doesn’t support his conclusion. In fact, it suggests that consuming white rice may slightly reduce one’s relative risk of cancer.




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          1. So we agree. Until there is better research we should error on the side of less consumption. I get that you haven’t had to take available research and use it professionally so you don’t quite get how it works.

            Some people eat a lot of rice products. Here is an example of one of my patients who I had this discussion with. Morning- coffee with rice milk, lunch vegetable sushi with rice, or added rice to his salad, afternoon snack-premade “nutrition”bar with rice syrup and rice crispy bits, afternoon- 2 rice milk ice coffees.

            Understand my concern? Please read the conclusion I posted bellow for your enjoyment. A lot more research is needed. Until then I will continue to pass on the message less is best.




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            1. WFPBRunner – No, we absolutely don’t agree. “There is no research at all supporting a link between rice consumption and cancer, the little research that exists (on both US and Asian populations) appears to support the opposite conclusion, therefore we should err on the side of caution and not consume rice.” That’s what you’re saying. That reasoning defies reason.




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                  1. You will regret one day when your health deteriorates because you stick your head in the sand and refuse to learn any new things and be so narrow minded.




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                    1. So that’s why you come here, Jerry? Because you’re so worried about our health? Do you really expect us to believe that?




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                1. “you vegan guys are so narrow minded and biased and distorted that you don’t want to learn any new things”

                  Wow, Jerry, that was a total projection. You have yet to come up with a single shred of science based facts about your beliefs. Your article from Mercola is not science based evidence. It’s a shame you can’t see the difference.




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              1. Yes, WFPBRunner, but according to him, bone broth is good for you as long as you don’t worry about the lead. So by his logic, it’s the worry part that’s bad for you, not the lead.

                He said this about rice & arsenic a few days ago.




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      1. Jerry, I defend your right to eat all the arsenic contaminated rice you want. Hell, I wouldn’t give a rat’s tail if you wanted to sprinkle a little extra on it and eat it with lead contaminated bone broth. That’s your choice.

        But please stop chastising those who choose not to.




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  7. I would like to recommend MN grown wild rice as an alternate rice. I live in northern MN and the native Americans still harvest and parch and sell the REAL WILD rice from lakes and rivers. This rice was never exposed to arsenic pesticides. You can find it on-line if you search for MN hand parched wild rice. It’s expensive but one lb dry rice yields 20-25 servings.




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  8. This series just keeps getting more and more confusing. Just finished reading the study, which he so cheekily teased us with at the end of this video, and apparently there’s no elevated risk for developping cancer (including prostate, breast, colon and rectum, melanoma, bladder, kidney, and lung), even when eating more than 5 servings (one serving = one cup) of rice per week… What gives?! Or did I misunderstand the study’s findings? (English is not my first language, so this is a definitely a possibility)
    Somebody, please elucidate…




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    1. Tia – You understood the study perfectly fine.

      The evidence is not in Dr. Greger’s favour, which is why you’ll notice in this series he doesn’t cite any direct research linking rice consumption with cancer. The entire series is a study in flawed logic. “Arsenic can cause cancer. There’s Arsenic in rice. Therefore, rice causes cancer.” Click here for the longer version.




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      1. Apparently, you did NOT read the discussion of that research paper which warns against applying these results directly to other populations considering that the majority of participants in the study were Europeans and ate far less rice than people in other parts of the world. They also specifically mention that the rice consumption of most participants was at the level recommended by consumer reports. That is much less rice than is eaten by people in countries like China and India. They also did not look at skin cancer rates which are important since for long term arsenic poisoning skin cancer is the type of cancer that tends to show up earliest. There’s quite a bit of follow up work that needs to be done with this study. Also, we need to see if other researchers are able to replicate their results. However, it’s reasonable to conclude from these results that consuming rice at the levels recommended by consumer reports is not associated with cancer risk.

        Furthermore, the reason that Dr. Gregor hasn’t cited direct research is because the research has yet to be done. There is currently exactly one study out there on the relationship between rice and cancer. It’s going to take at least a year or two before we have a better idea on this topic, because right now the research is in the beginning phase. Also, he’s going to discuss this study in his next video.




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  9. Tia, Thanks for your question. I am one of the volunteer moderater at the site. These series of rice and Arsenic awareness are for us all to be more aware of all the scientific findings that is done on this topic. It is not to confuse us. I understand people frustration as rice is a staple food around the world and some areas such as Middle East and Asia more than other parts of the world. In my family we consume Basmati rice from India and I wash it a few times before usage. Then I boil it in a large volume of water and rinse it out and cook it under low steam. I shall reduce my consumption based on these scientific evidence that Dr Greger has provided us. I shall replace it with Quinoa, or sweet potato, squash , barley, more vegetables and lentils. Or another option is to mix the rice with some onion, garlic, turmeric, and vegetables that have detoxcifying power. I hope these practical points help you.




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  10. Dr. G, could you please enlighten us about white and black fonio (phone-o), African gf supergrains that are touted to be nutritionally on par with quinoa? Fonio is purported to be one of the few grains that has amino acids methionine and cyctine. TIA




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    1. Hi mgc, Thanks for your question. I am one of the volunteer moderators at the website. Yes, these African grains are growing popularity because of the whole grains aspects of these has opened up new flavorful and lesser-known types of grains to the attention of other parts of the world.
      Acha and iburu cereal grains are another name for them mostly consumed whole, perhaps because of their small size (Jideani and Akingbala 1993)—each seed is only slightly larger than a grain of sand. Progress has been made with respect to whole grains on many fronts cumulating so far to three international whole grain summits. acha and iburu) like in tuo (tuwo), djouka, couscous, gwete, achajollof, kunuacha, etc. (Jideani 1990, 1999) should no longer be regarded as a coping strategy for increasing household food security considering the high comparative cost of this traditional cereal in area of production (Kone 1993; Jideani 1999; Dury et al. 2007) and the fact that they are sold to Africans emigrated in Europe and United States. The cereal, cultivated throughout West Africa, is now in high demand in English-speaking countries (Nigeria, Ghana, and Gambia) and in the Francophone countries (Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Benin, Burkina Faso Senegal, Mali, Cote d’ivoire, Togo and Guinea), where it is produced (Jideani 1990; Kone 1993; Obilana 2003; Ayo and Nkama 2006).
      Developments on the cereal grains Digitaria exilis (acha) and Digitaria iburua (iburu)




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    1. Rabeth – Try flavoring the water you cook it in. Put a little salt in your water. If you like, try some onion powder, garlic powder. You might try throwing in a bay leaf and some black pepper. After cooking try some nutritional yeast for some rich umami flavor. Perhaps you’re a hot sauce person – splash some of that on your barley.
      Hope I gave you some ideas – try different things and find out what you like.




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    1. Hi, Lee. Microwaveable brown rice is rice that is already cooked, and ready to be reheated. Nutritional loss would depend on the method of cooking before reheating. I do not know if using the microwave itself depletes nutrients. I do not have a microwave, and prefer not to use them. A rice cooker cooks rice the same way as it is cooked on a stovetop, but takes care of timing, temperature, etc. automatically. I would not think it would have any effect on nutrient loss compared with cooking rice in a pot on the stove. You raise some interesting questions that may warrant further investigation. In the meantime, I hope my response will suffice.




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      1. Thank you, Christine.  Googling that question suggests that there is sufficient nutriitonal value in microwavable brown rice for it not to be an issue but whether or not that is academically sound is up for debate I suppose.  I depend also on Trader Joe’s microwavable quinoa as well as jasmine rice.




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  11. My husband has celiac disease, so rice is a big part of our diet – what to do?
    How do you reconcile Asians’ high rice consumption with their longevity?
    Please respond. Thanks!




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    1. Antonia Reed – “How do you reconcile Asians’ high rice consumption with their longevity?”

      He can’t. If you pay close attention, Dr. Greger doesn’t even try to refute that evidence. Click here for the longer version of this response. Long story short, keep enjoying your white rice. I know I will.




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      1. I think you guys missed the part where they said that China is actually strict on the arsenic levels in their rice and their level is even below what the WHO recommends. You can’t compare it like that – it’s all about where the rice is grown.




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    2. Dear Antonio: As one of the moderators on this site, I wanted to thank you for your question. As you will see if you read the MANY other comments, several have made decisions to continue eating rice, perhaps considering the source, eating less, and cooking it differently than you had been. Again, this site is here to provide information, not to dictate that you must give up the rice that is a big party of your diet. You may just want to substitute some some other whole grains but not eliminate the rice and consider where the rice with less arsenic is grown. Once you’ve done what you believe is appropriate for reducing your risk, enjoy the rice as was outlined in this video. That’s what I’ll be doing.
      Do continue to read and comment please. There are so many good ways you can increase the nutrition in your meals that if this one issue is frustrating, focus on the many other ways you can continue to eat healthfully.




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  12. There’s absolutely no evidence to date supprting this ridiculously alarmist ‘Arsenic in rice’ series. As I’ve noted a number of times (with links to FAO data), in Asian countries that still largely consume a traditional diet, people eat 10-20 times as much rice as North Americans or Europeans do. Even accounting for the 2-4 times greater inorganic Arsenic content of US-grown rice (which accounts for just 1.4% of total world rice production), people in those Asian countries still consume up to 10 times as much Arsenic from rice, yet they have among the lowest overall incidence of cancer. By contrast, North Americans and Europeans countries have the highest caner incidence rates.

    In this video Dr. Greger notes that the USA Rice Manufacturer’s Association cite two pieces of evidence to support their conclusion that their rice is safe to consume. One is the US NHANES data, which showed those who consumed the most rice had the lowest incidence of disease. The other was that populations that consumed lots of rice (like those Asian populations that still consume a largely traditional diet) had better overall health.

    If you paid close attention, you would have noticed Dr. Greger didn’t challenge either of those findings, but rather dismissed them with a glib, “but is that because, or despite, their white rice consumption?” A sensible person would respond to that question with a “Who cares – they’re healthier. I’ll just do whatever else they’re doing, since it seems to work better than your ‘White rice is a RED LIGHT’ .nonsense”

    Also, here’s a link to that study that Dr. Greger left as a cliff hanger, along with a excerpt from the abstract:

    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 who ate lots of US-grown arsenic-contaminated rice had no significantly higher relative risk of any of the most common forms of cancer compared to those who ate little to no rice at all. Those who ate lots of the arsenic-contaminated white rice actually had lower relative risk of cancer than those who ate little to none. So much for the ‘red light’.

    Also, if you search this very site for videos about Walter Kempner, you will notice Dr. Greger cites his research that showed reversal of diabetes with his proscribed diet – primarily white rice with some fruit and table sugar. Yet Dr. G tries to cite research here showing that white rice raises the risk of developing diabetes in Americans – who presumably consumed a Standard American Diet, which would have been the real reason behind the finding. (You’ll also notice a flaw in the study – lots of white rice was considered 5 or more servings, while lots of brown rice was only considered 2 or more servings).

    To sum up, contrary to Dr. Gregers disingenuous assertions, a low-fat plant-based diet with regular white rice consumption actually cures diabetes, and the research shows that even among Americans who consumed 5+ servings of white (arsenic-contaminated US-grown) rice a week actually had a lower relative risk of developing the most common forms of cancer.

    All the evidence that currently exists supports regular consumption of rice, in particular white rice, for optimal health. Why Dr. Greger is continuing with this needlessly alarmist series in anyone’s guess.




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    1. Dear Poop Control,
      Thank you for your intellectual input into this debate on rice. I have listened to every video Dr. Greger has put forth on rice, and all of the alarming things he said just did not “ring” true in my mind. What he states about the danger of rice just didn’t seem to be intuitively ringing true in my mind and in the minds of others on this forum. Your well stated, mathematical, and intellectual presentation just seems to validate my intuition on this topic.




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    2. From the US/cancer rice study cited:

      ” However, it worthwhile noting that we observed a borderline significant increased risk of bladder cancer comparing ≥ 5/week vs. <1 week of total rice intake (RR= 1.32, 95% CI: 0.99, 1.76)"

      There may be an association between bladder cancer and rice consumption in this study.




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      1. The huge CI is saying “inconclusive study” very loudly. There is no way it has the power to see the small delta expected from FDA rice model, 100 ppm of risk




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        1. Kevin – I assume you’re referring to bladder cancer that Andy mentioned. The CI is not as wide when looking at total cancer risk from all common causes. In fact, the RR for white rice seems to suggest a decrease in risk from consuming only white rice, completely contradicting Dr. Greger’s ‘RED LIGHT’ recommendation. (Of course he had to base that on a questionable assertion about diabetes risk, since there’s literally no evidence to support a finding that white rice in and of itself increases cancer risk – in fact the opposite seems to be the case.)




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    3. Maybe there isn’t a link between cancer and arsenic in rice, but what about all the other bad stuff that arsenic does to your body? Is it really worth it to consume rice when the studies haven’t been done that show that arsenic in rice does not pose a health risk. Other grains are tasty too.




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      1. Joshua Pritikin – Happy to have that discussion. Focusing a series on that topic, as opposed to trying to foment fear over rice causing cancer when there’s no evidence to support such an assertion, would have been helpful.

        Yes, exposure to elevated levels of Arsenic over time does have detrimental effects. Arsenic poisoning has devastating effects. This UN video discusses the effects of Arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh (and other nearby countries in SE Asia).

        The important point to highlight is that in parts of the world where Arsenic poisoning exists, it’s the water supply that’s the problem. Yes, consuming rice in Bangladesh would likely increase one’s risk of Arsenic poisoning as well as cancer, but that’s because the water supply contained toxic levels of Asi, not because of the rice. It just so happens that, like many LDCs in SE Asia, rice is a dietary staple in Bangladesh.

        The danger of raising a false alarm about rice causing cancer is the fact that it is a staple of plant-based diets around the world, regardless of income level. According to the FAO (2013) data, rice accounts for more calories in the human diet than any other cereal grain – in fact more than any other food, period (rice 541 kcal/capita/day, wheat close second at 527). It account for an even more disproportional share of total caloric intake among Asian countries (780 kcal/capita/day, wheat 524).

        To say that people can replace the rice in their diets with something else like quinoa, barley, oats or millet is both arrogant and ignorant. A quick look at the FAO (2013) stats shows the supply of all these grains combined is a tiny fraction of the total world production and consumption of grains and seeds. for context:

        kcal/capita/day
        Barley 7
        Oats 3
        Millet 27
        Cereals, other 6
        (Quinoa is so rare that it’s lumped in under ‘other’)

        Rice also happens to be the least expensive grain to produce and consume, which is why it’s the most consumed staple food on the planet. To tell people to stop consuming rice because of a possible risk of cancer which there is literally no research to support is beyond irresponsible.




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        1. It’s actually not really as irresponsible to say either limit it or replace it given the general audience of these websites. He also has a video that for those who cannot replace it explains how to reduce the amount of arsenic using traditional cooking methods. Personally, I can easily replace rice in my diet with zero trouble. It is just as cost effective for me and anyone else that lives in my part of the US to buy other grains like millet, oats, farro, or barley as it is rice.

          Increasing demand for these grains in the west has only meant that more farmers are growing them than before in the past decade. There’s also a real benefit to increasing the supply of these grains, because of climate change. Temperatures are rising and traditional staple crops like wheat and rice may have seriously reduced yields whereas grains such as teff, millet, and farro can withstand greater temperatures. Teff actually takes less resources than rice does to grow. Millet also takes far less water to grow than rice does which is very important since many of the areas in Asia where rice grows are already prone to drought https://ensia.com/features/uncommon-grains/. There’s also some evidence that as the climate warms growing rice becomes less climate friendly, because it produces more methane.




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    4. I’ve avoided white rice for decades because it’s not very nutritious and is not a whole food. Isn’t that the most important thing here? Same reason I don’t consume bleached white flours, right?
      Personally, I am going to continue to enjoy my medium grain brown rice from California in abundance. No worries here.




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  13. Maybe the United States could give North Korea all of the rice grown in Louisiana as a FREE gift, if North Korea would stop their nuclear and ICBM missile program. This is just a joke.




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  14. I think it’s important to note that the rice consumed from a majority of the southern states, is NOT the same rice that is consumed in Asia, Africa, India, and other places. So when people try to say ‘well they eat rice in Blue Zones or in rural areas of other developing countries and don’t get cancer’ it’s not a level playing field because the rice they consume IS NOT the rice that is constantly eaten here in America. Plus there are so many other factors that come in to play that could cause diseases (enviroment, water, etc) and so many other things these cultures consume that could prevent diseases.

    Also on the Kempner’s Rice Diet: Dr. Kempner did this decades ago, so the rice he gave his patients isn’t the same arsenic filled rice that is in grocery stores now.

    Thanks again Dr. Greger for this wonderful arsenic series.




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    1. Ugo – You seem to be missing a really important point – and I can’t blame you, since Dr. Greger has refused to mention it (since it undercuts this whole alarmist ‘Arsenic in rice’ series):

      All US-grown rice (including California rice) accounts for just 1.4% of total world rice production, according to the latest (2014) FAO data. California rice accounts for ~1/5 of total US rice production, which means 99% of the rice consumed around the world, is not from the arsenic-pesticide laced fields in Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.

      In fact, 40% of the rice consumed in the US is imported, according to the (2013) FAO data.

      Regardless, the Harvard study cited above, funded by the NIH, found that Americans who consumed rice 5 or more times a week, the majority of which was presumably US-grown rice, had no greater risk of developing the most common forms of cancer. In fact, those who just consumed white rice actually had a lower risk of cancer.

      It’s not the rice, regardless of where it’s grown, nor is it the quantity consumed, that’s the cause of the higher incidence of cancer in Western countries (nor the lower incidence in most Asian countries). It’s what’s consumed along with the rice, as well as other environmental and lifestyle factors.




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      1. Really? Did you read the conclusion of the study Dr. Greger teases for Monday? In case you missed it—

        “Limitations of this study merit consideration. First, our study did not directly measure arsenic levels in rice or other foods. Instead, this study addressed the specific question of whether the amounts of arsenic in rice are sufficient to see a detectable increase in cancer risk. We acknowledge that studies of arsenic are clearly desirable, but possibly require a biomarker. Second, measurement errors using SFFQs to assess rice intake exist. However, the correlations (r~0.5) between the SFFQs and multiple 1-week dietary records suggested that rice consumption was reasonably assessed in current study. Thirdly, our results should be generalized to other population with caution because most of our study participants are of European origin. The rice products consumed by our European-American participants were much less than those eaten by Asian, Hispanic and Indian populations. In addition, we have no information on where the rice was produced in the US, and arsenic levels in rice may vary by place of production, rice cooking methods, and the quality of water used to cook rice. Fourthly, as with all observational studies, residual confounding by other factors cannot be totally excluded; however, the consistently observed null results in both men and women argued against missing strong associations. Lastly, while our sample sizes are large overall, we had limited power to examine the potential effect of rice consumption on certain cancer sites with relatively low incidence in the US.”

        What this means is more research is needed. This is inconclusive. So as with all things we are putting in our mouth we should error on the side of caution. There very last sentence is “Future research to combine measuring levels of arsenic with amounts of rice consumption is warranted to better evaluate the effect of arsenic ingested from food on cancer risk.”

        Poop Patrol eat all the rice you want. But your devotion to a so-so grain when there are so many others is not reasonable.




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        1. That’s not the conclusion, that’s the limitations section. Every credible study includes one. That set of limitations is actually quite good – it just clarifies that the study only looked at rice consumption in a given population without specifically measuring the arsenic content in the rice consumed. That’s perfectly fine if the focus of the study is whether rice consumption in the US in and of itself has an effect on cancer risk. The research showed there was no statistically significant increase in cancer risk for increased rice consumption in general, and a possibly small decrease in risk for increased white rice consumption.

          If you want to see a really worrisome set of limitations, go back to the study that Dr. Greger used to recommend everyone start popping expensive algae oil pills. If I recall correctly, Dr. John chimed in to elaborate on the limitations and criticise Dr. Greger’s recommendation. The only doctor that’s chimed in on this series so far (Dr. Stedman) has agreed with my comments that Dr. Greger is needlessly fear-mongering with this ‘Arsenic in rice’ series.




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          1. I am a doctor PP. I have taken many of research classes. “Evidence based practice” is how all current doctors should be practicing now. And what has been presented is the best evidence we have.

            Do you remember when Dr. Greger presented research on avocados? Red or yellow light I believe. Thankfully new data came out. I continued to eat them at the time but was aware what current data was showing. Did I throw a fit? No.




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            1. So when all the current evidence shows no link between rice consumption and increased cancer risk, and in fact shows the opposite to be true – that increased rice consumption is associated with improved health outcomes (a fact Dr. Greger himself can’t even refute in the very video linked above), you consider it ‘evidence-based practice’ to advise people not to consume rice? If you’re an actual medical doctor, post your real name like Dr. Stedman, Dr. John and others have. Ya, I thought so.




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              1. galehazeltine.com

                BS in movement physiology from UCLA
                MS in Physical therapy from University of Miami
                Doctorate from Western University
                I took many research, statistics and nutrition classes. Am I nutrition expert? No that is why I come to this site.
                You are just a debbie downer




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              2. Nobody is advising anyone not to eat rice!
                If there are alarmists who can’t tell the difference between experts advising caution and discrimination on rice purchasing & consumption, as opposed to an all out declaration of war on rice, then that is the consumers problem not the researchers.




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                1. Very true Beth. Nothing wrong with a bit of information. I had a great brown rice veggies sushi roll just yesterday.

                  But my husband switched his rice milk to almond milk. Always good the error on the side of caution.




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                2. Beth – THANK YOU for your common sense. If you want to keep eating your rice then by all means do so. If you want to make a switch then do that. This site shares the scientific research and information that is of interest to this group of people. This site is not the Food Police. Eat what you want and don’t blame Dr. G. for presenting information – it’s what he does.Make your own choice. jeesh!




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                3. Beth – “Nobody is advising anyone not to eat rice!”

                  Did you even watch the video?

                  Dr. Greger clearly says: “Junk food made out of brown rice syrup, rice milk and white rice are not just processed foods, but arsenic-contaminated processed foods, so they belong down here (‘Avoid‘)”

                  So you should avoid eating white rice because of its arsenic content. Arsenic has been shown to be a known carcinogen. Therefore rice can increase your chances of developing cancer…

                  …except the very study he teases at the end of the video actually showed that Americans who ate the most (arsenic-contaminated, US-grown) rice 5 or more times a week actually had a decreased risk of developing cancer. This has also been shown in Asian countries, where those who consumed a traditional (non-SAD, low animal products) diet with much higher rice consumption, 10-20 as much as American consume, also had the lowest incidence of cancer.

                  If you just want to follow blindly what Dr. Greger recommends without exercising any thought or reason – heck, without even paying attention to the contradictory statements he makes in his own videos – then go ahead. Most reasonable people see this for what it is




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  15. Where can I find a way to look up doctor Gregor’s red light, yellow light and green light foods? I have his book so I definitely know what his Daily dozen and green light foods are but I would like a quick way to be able to look up certain foods to see where they are on his nutrition standards.




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  16. The problem with the “switch barley for rice” argument, though, is that for some of us, rice is a HUGE cultural component. And by “some of us,” I actually mean the vast majority of humans on the planet. Hell, the Japanese word for food is “rice.” It’s all very easy to blithely say that rice isn’t the only grain on the planet, but for many of us, it’s more than just a grain. It’s our culture, our heritage, what our great-grandparents ate. It’s the very foundation of our diets. And let’s be honest: nobody wants oatmeal sushi.




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      1. @James O–

        MAKING THE UNACCEPTABLE MORE PALATABLE?
        The PRC has a very disruptive political issue with arsenic-contaminated rice, and the last thing the powers-that-be need is an uproar over a constant dribble of poison which multiplies risk of cancer in the general population.

        For PRC officials to redefine the problem by prescription of a maximum “safe” exposure rule is simply more information control by the same friendly mandarins who would keep the open internet out of China. Dr. Greger notes that same deceptive tactic in several videos about how industry tries to conceal real hazard to public health. As he puts the matter of arsenic consumption, there is no safe level of arsenic.

        For years, the industry-friendly USDA tried the same deception with arsenic in US rice, prescribing “safe” intake, rather protecting the public from well-established hazard at any feed. However, Consumer Reports blew a foul on that play in 2012.

        THE ORIGINAL CONSUMER REPORTS ARTICLE–
        https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/11/arsenic-in-your-food/index.htm




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    1. For Emily – For many cultures rice is comfort food handed down through many generations. And if one wants to continue to consume rice I think everyone supports your decision to do that. One of the take-aways from this series is how to minimize your arsenic exposure by knowing your source and, then, also ways to cook it if one wishes to continue to lower the exposure. If one wants to continue their family rice-eating traditions one should certainly do that. The purpose of this site is to offer up information and to allow one to use that information as it fits their life. So keep eating your rice and enjoying family traditions. Others will make a different choice.
      Thanks to Dr. G as always for shining a light on subjects of interest to us all.




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  17. I would so appreciate a moderator to try and answer my question. Dr. Greger talks about the other grains we can substitute but I am having trouble finding a whole grain source for some of them. Perhaps they do not exist??? For instance, Dr. Greger keeps mentioning barley as an alternative. All I find is pearl barley which I believe is like white rice, not a whole grain. Today I called Bob’s Red Mill to find out what organic whole grains they sell that could be a rice substitute. The ones mentioned were Spelt berries, Kamut berries, Amaranth and rye berries. They have organic farro but she said it is “scratched” to make it faster to cook so some of the outer part of the grain may be lost in that process. So does that mean that the farro would not be considered a whole grain then and more like white rice? I’d also like to know if millet is considered a whole grain or is something done with processing of this? Answers to these questions could be a big help for everyone as we try to find proper whole grain substitutes as we reduce rice consumption. So please, if you can tell us which grains are presently available in the U.S (and I’m sure people in other countries want to know too as well) as WHOLE grains that would be a very big help. Thank you for your upcoming response (I hope).




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      1. I bought a nutritional from amazon and I love it. I also buy whole grains and mix them to make muffins and flat breads. Maybe it is not as good for me as whole grain berries but it keeps me from eating junk. Totally worth it




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        1. I bought a nutritional from amazon and I love it. I also buy whole grains and mix them to make muffins and flat breads. Maybe it is not as good for me as whole grain berries but it keeps me from eating junk. Totally worth it Nutrimill




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      2. START A LOCAL GRANARY
        A home grinder in every kitchen (set to produce a coarse product, with fiber intact) might boost demand for organic grains in the locally-grown / organic farm market. More farmers would find incentive to grow grains like oats, helping to reduce our concern about Creeping Corporate Chemical Contamination .
        That approach neatly resolves (as yet) unverified reports grocery chains are selling rolled-oat products grown in glyphosphate-laced fields. Monsanto Roundup already has been liberally over-prescribed to the point of endangering the public food supply and health.

        We consumers should call corporate headquarters for Kroger, Publix, BiLo, etc., to make sure the chain buys only oats known to be glyphosphate-free. Voice calls to corporate are usually well-documented, which influences decision-makers up and down the food chain (sorry).




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    1. Denise – Here is a link from the Whole Grain Council which describes a variety of grains. Sort of interesting:
      https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whole-grains-z

      When I wanted hulled barley (non-pearled), I had to special order it from my local health food store. But a different, longer-lived health food store, had it on their shelves. That was many years ago and some stores are doing better about stocking whole grains. I live in a larger metropolitan area so I have more choices. But my suggestion is to start with your local grocer. Decide what you are wishing to purchase and see if they can special order it in for you if they don’t immediately carry it. If they can’t get it for you then online sources would be my next suggestion. I googled “buy whole grains online” and here’s what I got:
      https://wholegrainscouncil.org/find-whole-grains/mail-order-grain-sources It took me about 2 seconds to find this resource so they are out there and easily got. Just have to dig a little.




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  18. I am enjoying this series. Though I habitually read or at least check out the source documents, I have probably invested more time than usual in reading during these past weeks. And I feel it’s all been time well spent… thinking about water sources, learning about previously unknown (to me) health considerations, checking labels of health food products, discussing different grain options, and trying out a few new recipes has been fun. I’ve learned a lot and I’m grateful.




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  19. Dr. Greger, you are a “Witzbold”… can you make your informations still a bit more exciting? It’s like a series on tv, always on the most exciting point they stop and you have to wait a week to follow the story. ;-)
    You should consider making a documentation for tv or cinema, it would be a blockbuster! :-)))

    Thank you and your team for your work it is really enlightening…




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  20. Am I getting any arsenic if I have a scoop equivalent to 20 g. protein of sprouted organic brown rice protein powder in my daily smoothie?




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    1. It’s possible, but the only way to know for sure is to have the supplement tested, but why supplement like this at all? The need for extra protein is a complete myth for someone eating a whole food plant based diet with adequate intake as can be seen in this video:

      https://nutritionfacts.org/?fwp_search=protein+fiasco&fwp_content_type=video

      If you really want more protein, just eat more beans. They are 30-40% protein, but unlike a supplement, all the beneficial fiber, resistant starch, vitamin complexes and minerals have not been flushed down the drain.




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  21. HOW MUCH US CANCER HAS BEEN DUE TO RICE CONSUMPTION?
    Rethinking the arsenic issue as a constant risk factor in the US population over the past 175 years, we might wonder how much cancer regular rice consumption might have induced. Rice is still a staple crop in South Asia, and we can only imagine the harm it continues to generate (along with run-off of Agent Orange).




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  22. Hello friendly people.

    Today a friend told me to be VERY careful about acrylamide.
    He also said that acrylamide is a direct reason to be careful with a vegan diet. That vegans are more likely to get cancer from acrylamide.
    I have never heard about that and I cant seem to find any studies that supports his claims. Is it true?

    Wish you all a nice day.

    Fram Marco.




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