Scientists explain why rice can be dangerous to health


Grains of rice can accumulate large amounts of arsenic and other toxins, most of which will enter the human body during digestion. This was told by biologists who spoke at the conference of the Society for Risk Analysis in New Orleans.

“We conducted the first systematic assessment of how much arsenic contains typical grains of rice, and studied how much it enters the body when digesting food. In the near future, we will also study how it affects the human body” – said Zheng Zhou (Zheng Zhou) from Indiana University (USA).

High levels of lead, arsenic and many other elements in water, water pipes, dishes and other household items and everyday life often lead to the development of severe disruptions in the brain and body. Many historians today believe that the tradition of using lead cookware could be one of the reasons for the decline of Ancient Rome, and the high concentration of lead in water has already caused problems with children’s health in the city of Flint in the United States.

What is interesting, unlike many other toxins, the main source of arsenic in food and water is usually not industrial emissions or other traces of human “life activity”, but local groundwater. In some of the countries of the world, such as India and Bangladesh, about a quarter of the sources of moisture contain prohibitively high proportions of its compounds, which extremely negatively affect the lives of local residents.

Zhou and his colleagues became interested in how high water pollution with arsenic and other toxins will affect rice, the main crop in China, India and other countries in southern and eastern Asia.

To do this, they analyzed the data collected by the authors of 143 scientific papers on the metabolism of arsenic and its behavior inside the human body and in various foods. Selecting the ten most detailed studies, biologists have combined the results of experiments and summarized their findings.

As it turned out, rice grains usually accumulate large amounts of arsenic, most of which remain in its pulp in the form of inorganic compounds, rather than being incorporated into the work of the cells of this plant. On average, about 70-80% of arsenic gets from the water into the grass, and a similar proportion of it enters the body of people and animals when digesting food.

What is interesting, despite the very high level of bioavailability of this toxin, Zhou and his colleagues recorded a very large variation in these indicators. What this is connected with, biologists cannot yet say for sure, but they assume that these differences were generated by the way different varieties of rice interact with arsenic compounds.

All this, according to researchers, suggests that the authorities of Asian countries, as well as other countries where rice is the basis of the daily diet, should pay particular attention to checking this cereal for excess arsenic.


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