Love white wine, beer, brussels sprouts, or salmon? You might want to stop reading.
In a recent study, those delicious foods and drinks were all recently found to significantly raise people’s arsenic levels. Tuna and sardines were also on that list, along with (to a lesser extent) red wine. Oh, so everything delicious then, science? I see how it is.
Arsenic is an element that occurs naturally in the environment. But it’s not one of the good ones—long-term exposure, even at low levels, has been linked to increased risks of lung, skin, and bladder cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
People who ate dark-meat fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines once a week had a 7 percent higher arsenic level compared to those who ate dark-meat fish less than once a month.
Wine and beer had the most grim outlook of the whole bunch—people who reported drinking either one glass of wine or two and a half beers every day had arsenic levels 20 to 30 percent higher than non-drinkers. The researchers weren’t sure exactly why that was, but it could be anything from beer and wine itself being high in arsenic, to arsenic being added during the filtration process, to alcohol simply impairing the body’s ability to detoxify arsenic.
Sheesh, first our wine and beer…what’s next, arsenic in our water?
Actually, yes. This study also found that the most significant source of arsenic in most people’s diets is drinking water. The good news is that out of 852 participants in the study, only 52 had tap water in their households that exceeded the EPA limit for arsenic, so the odds are in your favor. If you’re drinking your water from a private well, the researchers recommend getting it tested.
As for the rest of your diet? The researchers say “Probably the best way to avoid exposure from diet is to mix it up in the foods, and not eat the same thing every day.” If you need me, I’ll be over here, suspiciously eyeing everything I eat or drink forever.
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