Rice Consumption Linked to Arsenic Exposure

Urinary excretion of arsenic elevated in pregnant women reporting daily rice consumption

TUESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- In pregnant women who report daily rice consumption, urinary excretion of arsenic is significantly elevated when compared with non-rice eaters, according to research published online Dec. 5 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Diane Gilbert-Diamond, D.Sc., of the Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center at Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., and colleagues analyzed data from 229 pregnant women (mean age, 30.8 years) who underwent urinalysis at six-month prenatal visits. The women also provided a three-day dietary record for water, fish/seafood, and rice. Tap water from the subjects' homes was also tested for arsenic levels, and then combined with tap water consumed to calculate exposure through tap water.

Seventy three of the women reported rice consumption (mean daily intake, 0.56 cups). The researchers found that both rice consumption and arsenic exposure through water were significantly associated with natural log-transformed total urinary arsenic, inorganic arsenic, monomethylarsonic acid, and dimethylarsinic acid.

"Our findings suggest that many people in the United States may be exposed to potentially harmful levels of arsenic through rice consumption. The average daily rice consumption in the United States is about 0.5 [cups] of cooked rice, just below our estimated threshold based on the drinking water [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Maximum Contaminant Level] urinary equivalent. Importantly, there is high variability in rice consumption, such that some groups may have considerably higher arsenic exposure through rice," the authors write.

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