How Chemically Contaminated Are We?

Every few years the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measures the levels of chemical pollutants in the bodies of thousands of Americans from across the country. What did the latest report tell us about our toxic burden? Find out in today’s video pick above.

The official U.S. Presidential Cancer Panel report from the National Cancer Institute on reducing environmental cancer risk was also released recently. Quoting from the report:

“With the growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the unacceptable burden of cancer resulting from environmental and occupational exposures that could have been prevented through appropriate national action.”

Every year in the United States there are one and a half million new cases of cancer a year striking men, women, and children. Unfortunately, the report concludes:

“the grievous harm from this group of carcinogens has not been addressed adequately by the National Cancer Program. The American people—even before they are born—are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures. The Panel urges you, Mr. President, most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.”

Strong words, but what can we do? They don’t give much dietary guidance. Basically they just say choose organic and free-range:

“Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues. Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications if it is available. Avoiding or minimizing consumption of processed, charred, and well-done meats will reduce exposure to carcinogenic heterocyclic amines and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.”

For a more detailed account of which foods are most contaminated, see Food Sources of PCB Chemical Pollutants and Dioxins in the Food Supply.

My previous videos on organic foods include Can Pesticides Be Rinsed Off? and Cancer Fighting Berries. I also have videos on livestock growth hormones and feed additives. For more on processed meat, check out any of my 25 videos on the subject including When Nitrites Go Bad, Bacon and Botulism, and Prevention Is Better Than Cured Meat.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 presentation Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death.

Image credit: Taras Kalapun / Flickr

Mercury Testing Before Pregnancy
Drug Residues in Meat
Industrial Pollutants Measured in Vegans


C Holmes
C Holmes4 months ago

Thank you.

William C
William C4 months ago

Thank you.

W. C
W. C4 months ago


William C
William C4 months ago

Thank you.

Chi Hoo
C Holmes4 years ago

CONTINUED from 2nd part of post:
[[like CHINA, which could be vastly growing their SOLAR, WIND, GEOTHERMAL, modeling extremely insulated buildings, etc. industries, instead of the petroleum industries.
They want cars? How about they take on making the AIR CARS others have already developed technology for?]]
Same in India and Africa.
I would LOVE to see them leave the USA in their dust, by massively developing CLEAN alternative energy sources & transport, leaving the petroleum industry in their dust, too. would serve USA corporations a deserved serving of humble pie, since USA corporations have RABIDLY blocked & avoided developing Clean Renewable Energy sources.
...& I am NOT advocating nuclear, either--that is NOT clean, & is very costly.

I would hope other countries learn sooner, what America failed to:
that DEcentralized services & supplies beget more jobs, are more cost effective, safer, & more responsive to market, than all the privatized, centralized systems & supply lines current industry models have pushed us into.
Those habits have helped push us over the fiscal cliff, because those lack scalability at this size, cannot be maintained; we cannot get out of it, unless/until things get changed for greener, more sustainable ways of doing business.
We need to STOP doing business as usual, and get going fast, on truly clean, really renewable, ways to live.

Chi Hoo
C Holmes4 years ago

CONTINUED from 1st part of post:
=="Research" has morphed into poorly designed / implemented processes intended to baffle public & steer public perception with Media coverage [witness pharmaceutical companies having news agencies tout how bad or useless a proven nutritional is, a few months ahead of them releasing a drug to do the same, then months after the release & promotion of the drug, the news/media is then encouraged to marginally report the nutritional is OK, after all, like was done with Vit. E, etc.].

WHEN media is hyping a chemical, drug, or other "wonder-substance" QUESTION IT.
Especially if in the months prior, the natural substance has been dissed.

Those of us who are Chemically Sensitive [or MCS], KNOW.
We are the mine canaries, those exposed & became sensitive [read: seriously affected], whose biology /physiology can no longer cope with the overloads industry has caused.

The old advertizement from the late 1950's/early 1960's,
"Better Living Through Chemistry" ,
COULD have gone far better than it did, but instead science has taken on the behavior of doing anything they can think of "because they can", FOR PROFIT,
NOT for true betterment of LIFE.

I can only pray heavily, that other countries trying to catch up with "civilization" modeled by America, learn faster & better than we have, & take STRONG measures to attain that level of civilization =by using far healthier methods=.
[[like CHINA, which could be vastly gr

Chi Hoo
C Holmes4 years ago

Anyone on this list, is probably already some level of aware, how polluted the earth is.

Just about water:
One cannot hike up a mountain, & be guaranteed the water in a stream at the top of the mountain is safe to drink, no matter how remote.
Municipal water supplies have been badly contaminated for many decades.
Rapidly growing perinatal issues, for instance, can be related to chemicals just in the water supplies, alone, without even addressing other intake issues.
What is tested for in water supplies, does not begin to screen for the chemical residues in it.

==Man-made Chemical Compounds are designed to be stable: they cannot break down during the natural progress of seeping through to deep water tables, therefore they contaminate at increasingly deeper levels [such as San Jose, CA, learned many years ago, about MTBE, a gas additive].
==Companies fail to disclose, lie by omission, out-right lie, to cover harm their "wonder chemicals" can cause, usually based on testing the effects of a singular compound, NOT in a real milieu where other compounds also load biological systems, causing the new compound to be worse than it is alone, singled out in the lab.
==Corporations scramble for market share / optimal profit, pushing products to market ahead of decent testing; they also tweak testing to reflect well on their products, while giving appearance of proper form.
=="Research" has morphed into poorly designed / implemented processes intended to ba

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Kim W.
Kim W4 years ago

So we must each do our part to change first that around us and our own lives then we need to expand and try to change all we touch. as a certified organic small family beef farm we are incredibly pleased with the health of our land animals and the water we can control. It is big to have made these changes in our part of the midwest heartland. we are encouraging others to change the methods they use to farm and having great success. One farm one person one acre and one animal at a time we can do this

Chi Hoo
C Holmes4 years ago

Oh...and under "what to do"?
I have also been something of an activist: If I go to the store, and discover, as I did a few years ago, that Fred Meyer sells stuff labeled Organic, but it has been irradiated? I contact that store manager and have a discussion about it, and if necessary work that discussion up the chain of command, to let the store / chain store know i refuse to buy irradiated food; that when it is irradiated, bugs and mold will not grow on it to rot it, because nutritional content has been destroyed....meaning it is unfit for human consumption, either.

I most often contact stores to let them know what I DO want. If a store has been earning income by selling bad products, usually it is due to not knowing what they could substitute that is healthier. I let them know what the healthier alternatives might be, so they still get a market share, but do it BETTER.

Telling managers, legislators, etc. what the problems are, is useless.
THEY are CLUELESS, and, THEY THINK public wants the garbage being sold.
WE can CHANGE that by telling them of BETTER options, that we WOULD BUY.
==They all respond faster / better to being informed what we DO want.==