Dr. Joseph Mercola has always warned against consuming unhealthy, processed fruit juices. Here’s another compelling reason to avoid these products: a recent study by Consumer Reports says that the toxic substance arsenic may be found in some fruit juices.
After investigating the arsenic and lead levels in apple and grape juice, the researchers discovered that 10 percent of the 88 fruit juices tested had arsenic levels that exceed the U.S. federal drinking water standard. Twenty-five percent of the tested juices also had lead levels that are higher than the five parts per billion (ppb) limit set for bottled water.
According to Consumer Reports:
“Through interviews with physicians and authors of peer-reviewed studies, Consumer Reports also found mounting scientific evidence suggesting that chronic exposure to arsenic and lead even at levels below federal standards for water can result in serious health problems, especially for those who are exposed in the womb or during early childhood. FDA data and other research reveal that arsenic has been detected at disturbing levels in other foods as well.
… In addition to juice, foods including chicken, rice, and even baby food have been found to contain arsenic — sometimes at higher levels than the amounts found in juice …” (link)
Dr. Mehmet Oz also discussed this issue oin The Dr. Oz Show, claiming to have tested 50 brands of apple juice that all showed high levels of arsenic. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said his findings were “inaccurate” because he tested not only for inorganic arsenic but also for organic arsenic, which is considered fairly harmless.
Do NOT Drink Fruit Juice with Unsafe Arsenic Levels
At present, no official limits are available for arsenic in juice. However, a 2008 FDA hazard assessment says that 23 ppb of inorganic arsenic would represent “a potential health risk.” But Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, argues that this level should NOT be used as a safety limit reference point. This is because the levels do not consider the now well-established carcinogenicity of inorganic arsenic. According to Consumers Union, the limit for arsenic should be three ppb only.
The FDA responded by saying that they will be creating a guidance for the permissible level of arsenic in fruit juices. But the truth is they already have the data on arsenic in fruit juices because of their Total Diet Study (TDS). They’ve been sampling juices for several years, and the results can be found on their website.
Their data revealed that the arsenic levels can be very high in some instances. Consumer Reports says that while the FDA had shown the results of 70 samples over a six-year period, eight samples from 2008 and 2009 were not released until late November. These eight samples revealed arsenic levels of 23 ppb or higher. In addition, the TDS program also showed that a quarter of the juice samples from 1991 to 2009 had 10 ppb or arsenic or higher.
“So while the FDA may be technically correct in its statement that arsenic levels are typically low, their own data still shows that 25 percent of samples test above the EPA’s safe water limit, and that’s not necessarily negligible. Especially when you consider the increased risks of skin, lung and bladder cancer associated with repeated exposure to arsenic,” Dr. Mercola comments.
The Health Hazards of Arsenic
The signs and symptoms of chronic arsenic exposure include:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Skin discoloration or lesions, including hyperkeratosis
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Dr. Mercola says that these symptoms are usually overlooked or misdiagnosed. This can be dangerous because long-term arsenic exposure may increase your risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Reproductive problems
Chronic arsenic exposure in utero and during early childhood is problematic because it can harm a child’s developing brain and endocrine and immune systems. Studies have shown that it can increase the risk of lung cancer, learning disabilities, and other brain-related dysfunctions in both adults and children.
If you feel that you are exhibiting symptoms related to arsenic poisoning, have your arsenic levels tested by your physician. Just make sure that you avoid eating seafood for up to 72 hours before the test, because fish is high in naturally-occurring arsenic that can affect your results.
How to Avoid Arsenic Poisoning
Inorganic arsenic naturally occurs in the earth and is released into groundwater that travels through rocks and soil. If you are using well water in your home, Dr. Mercola advises having it tested for arsenic and other contaminants using a comprehensive test kit from the National Testing Laboratories. If you have public water, get your drinking water information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Dr. Mercola also recommends using a high-quality water filter, so that you can be sure that you’re getting pure water.
“To be absolutely certain you are getting the purest water you can, you’ll want to filter the water both at the point of entry and at the point of use. This means filtering all the water that comes into the house, and then filtering again at the kitchen sink. I currently use a whole house carbon-based water filtration system, and prior to this I used reverse osmosis (RO) to purify my water,” Dr. Mercola adds.
Other ways to avoid arsenic include:
- Limit your juice consumption. Aside from arsenic, juices also contain high amounts of fructose that if taken in large quantities can cause very serious health problems.
- Buy organic, pastured chicken. Traces of arsenic have been found in factory-raised chickens because of the synthetic pesticides they ingest. Organic regulations do not allow organically-raised chickens to be fed conventional feed grown with synthetic pesticides.
- Avoid processed baby foods. These may be contaminated with potentially toxic chemicals and are loaded with sugar and trans fats. Opt for homemade baby food made from organic ingredients instead.