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Bad news for Celiacs: Arsenic in rice may make it even harder to eat gluten-free

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 by: Sarka-Jonae Miller
Tags: arsenic, rice, gluten-free

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(NaturalNews) A recent study found that almost all of the 60 rice products tested contained "worrisome" levels of arsenic. This is bad news for people with Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. Rice is the number one alternative grain consumed by people on a gluten-free diet, though rice consumption is by no ways limited to only people who avoid gluten. Everyone is at risk for arsenic poisoning. Although the researchers said that there was not enough arsenic in any of the rice products to kill someone instantly, the levels are enough of a concern to be considered dangerous in the long term.

Arsenic is a carcinogen linked to cancer, specifically bladder, lung and liver cancer. Studies show that even small amounts of arsenic exposure can cause cancer years later. Arsenic is a naturally-occurring element found in soil, air and water so its presence in foods and water is not new. What is alarming is how much of the arsenic is in rice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that it has not found evidence that rice is unsafe, but there are no federal standards that say what is and what is not safe in terms of arsenic levels.

Consumer Reports discovered both organic arsenic and inorganic arsenic in the rice and rice products earlier in 2012. Inorganic arsenic is a known carcinogen. Organic arsenic is considered to be less toxic but not harmless. The FDA then performed its own study. The agency is under pressure from organizations and groups that want to know what levels of arsenic are dangerous. This is particularly important for groups of people with Celiac disease and who follow a gluten-free diet as they eat significantly more rice than the average person.

Arsenic foods

Rice is not the first food to be known to contain arsenic. Milk and dairy products carry high amounts of arsenic as well. The dangerous carcinogen has been found in pork, poultry and beef, as well as cereal. Many water sources contain high levels of arsenic. Some of the arsenic in water has been traced to natural arsenic coming from the soil, but other arsenic contamination is due to mining and industrial waste.

The arsenic in rice and other foods may not kill people on the spot, but it is simply unknown whether years of eating arsenic in foods can be fatal. Children and other at risk populations are particularly vulnerable and should consider alternatives to rice, dairy, meat, and cereal.

Arsenic poisoning

High levels of arsenic exposure may cause immediate arsenic poisoning. Arsenic poisoning is deadly in some cases. People who survive an acute toxic exposure often develop serious complications. These may include nerve damage, skin issues, and liver, cardiac and renal problems. People exposed to arsenic may notice sensory and motor disturbances. The damage may be moderate to severe.

Direct exposure to high levels of arsenic is not the only way to suffer arsenic poisoning. Chronic exposure to arsenic usually causes less severe issues, but can still lead to health problems related to acute poisoning.

Gluten-free alternatives to rice

A gluten-free diet is the only treatment for Celiac disease. People who have gluten allergies or an intolerance turn to rice as a gluten-free grain, but there are other options. Quinoa is gluten-free and is a complete protein. Amaranth is similar in size and texture to quinoa.

Other gluten-free options include buckwheat, millet, barley, corn and sorghum. Health conscious people should check that their corn, and all other foods, are non-GMO.

Sources for this article include:

Be Well Philly

About the author:
Sarka-Jonae Miller is a former personal trainer and massage therapist. She has a journalism degree from Syracuse University. Sarka-Jonae currently writes romantic comedy novels and romantic erotica under the same SJ Miller.
Get more health and wellness tips from SJ's natural health Twitter feed or from SJ's Facebook page.
SJ's books can be found on Amazon.

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