Rice consumption contributes to arsenic exposure in US women.
Subject: Arsenic (Health aspects)
Arsenic (Measurement)
Rice (Health aspects)
Rice (Consumption data)
Authors: Gilbert-Diamond, D.
Cottingham, K.L.
Gruber, J.F.
Pub Date: 03/01/2012
Publication: Name: Alternative Medicine Review Publisher: Thorne Research Inc. Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 Thorne Research Inc. ISSN: 1089-5159
Issue: Date: March, 2012 Source Volume: 17 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Code: 650 Sales & consumption
Product: Product Code: 2819903 Arsenic & Compounds; 0112000 Rice NAICS Code: 325188 All Other Basic Inorganic Chemical Manufacturing; 11116 Rice Farming SIC Code: 2819 Industrial inorganic chemicals, not elsewhere classified; 0112 Rice
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 286390900
Full Text: Gilbert-Diamond D, Cottingham KL, Gruber JF, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2011;108:20656-206560.

Emerging data indicate that rice consumption may lead to potentially harmful arsenic exposure. However, few human data are available, and virtually none exist for vulnerable periods such as pregnancy. Here we document a positive association between rice consumption and urinary arsenic excretion, a biomarker of recent arsenic exposure, in 229 pregnant women. At a 6-mo prenatal visit, we collected a urine sample and 3-d dietary record for water, fish/seafood, and rice. We also tested women's home tap water for arsenic, which we combined with tap water consumption to estimate arsenic exposure through water. Women who reported rice intake (n = 73) consumed a median of 28.3 g/d, which is ~0.5 cup of cooked rice each day. In general linear models adjusted for age and urinary dilution, both rice consumption (g, dry mass/d) and arsenic exposure through water ([micro]g/d) were significantly associated with natural log-transformed total urinary arsenic ([beta] rice = 0.009, [beta] water = 0.028, both P < 0.0001), as well as inorganic arsenic, monomethylarsonic acid, and dimethylarsinic acid (each P < 0.005). Based on total arsenic, consumption of 0.56 cup/d of cooked rice was comparable to drinking 1 L/d of 10 [micro]g As/L water, the current US maximum contaminant limit. US rice consumption varies, averaging ~0.5 cup/d, with Asian Americans consuming an average of > 2 cups/d. Rice arsenic content and speciation also vary, with some strains predominated by dimethylarsinic acid, particularly those grown in the United States. Our findings along with others indicate that rice consumption should be considered when designing arsenic reduction strategies in the United States. PMID: 22143778


Arsenic is already present in unhealthy levels in groundwater throughout the U.S. and in many other places around the world. Arsenic has been linked to skin disorders, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Maternal arsenic levels have been linked to increased rates of infant mortality and low birth weight. When encountering a patient with high levels of urinary arsenic, environmental medicine clinicians will often begin asking about intake of shellfish and other seafood, as well as seaweed, in order to find the likely source. Groundwater contamination must also be taken into consideration (see national map at: http:// water.usgs.gov/nawqa/trace/arsenic/). The findings of this study suggest that many people in the U.S. may be exposed to potentially harmful levels of arsenic, because of eating rice frequently. An even newer study (epublished in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in Feb, 2012) titled Arsenic, Organic Foods, and Brown Rice Syrup (available at http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/info:doi/10.1289/ehp.1104619) reported that organic brown rice syrup, and foods using it as a sweetener, such as organic infant milk formulas, cereal bars, and energy bars, had significant amounts of arsenic. When dealing with arsenic toxicity, clinicians need to be aware to ask about rice and organic brown rice syrup intake.
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