Are fruits and veggies exposing your kids to food-borne toxins?

Scientists recommend that parents stock their fridges with organic foods, cut out potato chips and reduce the consumption of meat and animal fats after finding that preschool-aged children in the US are particularly vulnerable to food-borne toxins which have been linked to cancer.

Those are among some of the suggestions in a new study out of the University of California which found that preschool-aged children were at high risk for exposure to compounds like arsenic, dieldrin, DDE -– a DDT metabolite –- dioxins and acrymalide, all of which have been linked to cancer, developmental disabilities, birth defects and other conditions.

"We focused on children because early exposure can have long-term effects on disease outcomes," said Rainbow Vogt, lead author of the study. “… The results of this study demonstrate a need to prevent exposure to multiple toxins in young children to lower their cancer risk."

For their research, published in the journal Environmental Health and released this week, scientists assessed risk exposure by using established benchmarks for cancer and non-cancer health risks among 364 children.

Data was culled from the 2007 Study of Use of Products and Exposure-Related Behavior which surveyed households in California.

The results are sobering, researchers say, as all the kids exceeded cancer benchmarks for arsenic, dieldrin, DDE and dioxins.

More than 95 percent of preschool children also exceeded non-cancer risk levels for acrymalide, a cooking byproduct found in processed foods like potato and tortilla chips.

Pesticide exposure was also particularly high, and came primarily from foods such as:

-tomatoes
-peaches
-apples
-peppers
-grapes
-lettuce
-broccoli
-strawberries
-spinach
-dairy
-pears
-green beans
-celery

In addition to choosing organic products where possible, reducing animal meats and cutting out processed foods, researchers suggest that parents vary their children’s diet to help reduce exposure.

“Because different foods are treated differently at the source, dietary variation can help protect us from accumulating too much of any one toxin,” said lead investigator Irva Hertz-Picciotto.

Meanwhile, last month an American study snatched headlines for concluding that organic fruits and vegetables were no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts.

 

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