Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2003 9:01 am Posts: 933 Location: Dallas, TX
Arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical element found throughout our environment and its living systems. Arsenic can enter groundwater through erosion and weathering of soils, minerals, and ores. Arsenic compounds are used in the manufacture of a variety of products and may enter our environment directly from industrial effluents and indirectly from atmospheric deposition.
Arsenic exists in different chemical forms, which can be classified into two groups: organic arsenic and inorganic arsenic. Inorganic arsenic is considered to be the most toxic to human health, while organic arsenic is considered to be non-toxic.
Arsenic and Food Arsenic can be found at very low levels (low parts per billion [ppb]) in many foods, including meat and poultry, milk and dairy products, bakery goods and cereals, vegetables, and fruits and fruit juices. These traces levels of arsenic generally reflect normal accumulation from the environment. Both organic and inorganic forms of arsenic can be found in food. While the levels of each depend on the type of food, inorganic arsenic is not usually found at high levels.
Higher levels of arsenic are generally found in fish and shellfish, but in the organic form, which is not of concern to human health.
Health Effects of Exposure to Inorganic Arsenic Inorganic arsenic is not usually found at high levels in food. Long-term exposure (over many years or decades) to high levels of inorganic arsenic is known to contribute to the risk of human cancer and can affect the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, liver, lungs and epidermis.
Short term exposure (days/weeks) to very high levels of inorganic arsenic can also cause various health effects including skin effects, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and numbness in hands and feet.
I've heard people arguing for and against the research that Dr. Mehmet Oz has recently presented regarding arsenic in apple juice. Those who are trying to dismiss the messenger are taking the wrong approach - he has some good credentials.
The upshot should be that we don't know enough about how food is handled when it comes from outside the US, (let alone how it is handled here!) This kind of test result shouldn't be a shock to people, but it is. And many of the arguments against Oz's research is a defensive response, not an intellectual one. For many people, I suspect, the jury is still out. I look forward to the discussion.
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