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Study under review: Association of rice and riceproduct consumption with arsenic exposure early in life
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in soil and water, as it is present in the Earth’s crust as a constituent of over 200 different minerals. Natural processes like dust storms and volcanic eruptions, as well as human application, such as through pesticides, herbicides, wood preservation, production of electronics, paints, and other industries, contribute to the accumulation of arsenic in the environment. Arsenic is found both in inorganic and organic forms, which are compared in Figure 1. The inorganic kind is generally recognized as the more toxic form. Organic arsenic is found primarily in seafood like fish, shellfish, and seaweed.
Inorganic arsenic is a known carcinogen that can cause cancers of the lung, bladder, skin, kidney, and liver. Infants are particularly vulnerable to toxicants, and data from both observational studies and animal models suggest that arsenic exposure during early life increases the risk of respiratory diseases, impaired lung function, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. By contrast, organic arsenic exposure has little to no association with toxicity in humans.
Infant rice cereal is a common first food during the transition away from breast milk or formula, but intake of rice during infancy is not well characterized in the U.S. There has been a growing concern over levels of inorganic arsenic in rice and rice-based products because some rice crops may be cultivated with contaminated groundwater. This is amplified by the use flooded fields for growing rice crops, as increased exposure of the soil to water increases the amount of arsenic released into water for absorption by the rice. This explains why arsenic contamination in rice is particularly concerning when compared, for example, to wheat and barley.
On April 1, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed setting an upper limit of 100 parts per billion for arsenic concentrations in infant rice cereal. This parallels current regulations in the European Union. Given the vulnerability of infants to arsenic exposure, the study under review investigated rice-based food sources of arsenic exposure among infants during their first year of life.
Inorganic arsenic is a contaminant that accumulates in rice. Since rice cereal is a common transitional food for infants, the current study examined food sources for arsenic exposure among infants during their first year of life.
Other Articles in Issue #19 (May 2016)
Training hot for performance gains
Athletes know all too well that sudden exposure to heat or altitude can severely impact performance, so acclimation is a good idea. And it turns out that exposure to one of these stressors may actually help the other one.
The art & science of evidence-based practice and elite performance By Craig Pickering
As one of the rare athletes to participate in both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, Craig has a unique perspective on the intersection of optimal performance and evidence-based practice.
Relaxing arteries with magnesium
To stave off cardiovascular disease, we want our arteries to be more pliable than stiff. This trial tested six months of magnesium supplementation for the purpose of reducing arterial stiffness.
Beating “the burn” with baking soda
Can you believe that something as simple as baking soda may boost performance? While this fact has been known for a while, researchers didn’t know that people’s responses to different doses can vary quite a bit
A compound from beer may help fat loss
Bitter, hop-derived compounds found in beer may actually reduce body fat levels. Previously only shown in mice, this study tested the theory in humans
Sugar is the ultimate antioxidant and insulin will make you younger: Appreciating a few poorly recognized but critical contributions of carbohydrate
By Chris Masterjohn, PhD: Sugar is widely demonized in the media and medical establishment. Professor Masterjohn provides an eye-opening and detailed view on some potential protective roles of glucose.
Milk gone bad: A1 beta-casein and GI distress
Casein isn’t just the slowly digesting protein that helps prevent muscle breakdown. This study looked at possible negative effects of the most common type of casein in milk
How much protein does grandpa really need?
One of the many downsides to aging is altered protein mechanics. Based on the theory that protein requirements for seniors may be pegged too low, this study quantified protein needs in older males.
Is resistance exercise the next frontier for nitrates?
Nitrate use for athletics has exploded in the past few years, but research typically focuses on aerobic activities like longer-distance cycling or swimming. Could nitrates also show benefit for weightlifting?