Last September, Dr. Oz reported on his findings that showed arsenic levels in some apple juice brands are higher than the EPA limit for arsenic in water. On today’s Dr. Oz Show, he presented an update to that story, with some breaking news from the Consumer Reports study.
Dr. Urvashi Rangan from Consumer Reports was on the show, and she revealed that in their sample of 88 apple and grape juice brands, about 10% exceeded the drinking water limit for arsenic. Most of the arsenic was of the inorganic variety (ergo: from pesticides).
Also since Dr. Oz’s program, the FDA has been releasing data from their monitoring of arsenic levels in juice. Recently they have found that show levels as high as 45 ppb in juice. This data was released shortly before Thanksgiving (2011).
Dr. Rangan says that the FDA has even found spikes as high as 86 ppb in a baby apple juice! Yikes! Remember, the safe level of arsenic in drinking water is only 10 ppb.
Inorganic vs Organic Arsenic
Originally the FDA had said that most of the arsenic in apple juice was of the natural, organic form. But Dr. Rangan’s study shows it’s mostly inorganic, and she thinks that even the organic form of arsenic is a risk factor — it may be dangerous. Some of it has been shown in animal studies to be carcinogenic.
Why Arsenic Is in Our Food Supply
Arsenic is a naturally occurring compound on earth. However, with the wide use of pesticides which contain arsenic, the levels of arsenic in ground water and dirt have been steadily rising. Additionally Doctor Oz says that coal-fired plants release arsenic into the atmosphere. Also pressure-treated wood on older decks contain arsenic. Also as recently as last summer, arsenic was used in chicken feed.
Dr. Rangan says that 35% of kids under 5 are drinking more juice than is actually recommended by pediatricians. They should only be drinking about 4-6 ounces a day.
Consumer Reports also checked to see if we have more arsenic in our bodies lately. The FDA has data on that (not surprisingly), and they found that people who drink apple or grape juice have 20% higher levels of arsenic in their urine than people who don’t.
Arsenic is linked to increased levels of:
- Bladder cancer
- Lung cancer
- Skin cancer
- Heart disease
- Learning disabilities
Consumer Reports has set a level of 3 ppb for arsenic in juice, based on the amount of juice that kids are drinking, and Dr. Rangan is calling for the FDA to get on board with this plan.
The OTHER Side
Dr. Gail Charnley from the Juice Products Association joined the show today. In September, they could not be bothered to present their side on the show, but evidently they decided that was a mistake and showed up!
SHE says that the statement from Consumer Reports which says there is no safety limit for arsenic in juice is false. The FDA has set a level of 23 ppb, and the juice industry takes that very seriously and conforms to it.
Dr. Oz asked her why they shouldn’t reduce the arsenic levels to the same as drinking water, which is only 10 ppb. Her answer was that they comply with the FDA and science. And she thinks that when you do the math, the amount of juice vs. water being drunk ends up with about the same about of arsenic total.
Dr. Rangan says you have to account for the body weight, and realize that it’s kids drinking juice, not adults. And she insists that the FDA has not set a safety limit of 23 ppb, that’s only a concern level, and they are not regulating juice as they should be so consumers can trust the juice.
Dr. Charnley says the FDA level of concern IS an enforceable standard, and the juice industry does comply with it.
Once again, Dr. Oz asked her why they can’t just go with the water safety limit, and Dr. Charnley repeated herself that when the FDA decides that’s what they have to do then that’s when they will comply with it.
Dr. Oz’s Bottom Line
Doctor Oz says that until there’s a standard for arsenic levels in juice, he recommends following the general pediatric guidelines for juice consumption:
- Infants: no juice
- Under 7 years: 4-6 ounces
- Above 7 years: 8-12 ounces
- Diversify juices, don’t drink just one kind of juice
- Dilute juices with water
11-year-old Tyche weighs over 200 pounds and hoards food. She has done this since she was two years old, and Dr. Oz is trying to intervene and help her. He had her mom on the show, and Tyche’s mom (who doesn’t seem to be any less fat than her daughter) revealed that she hasn’t had Tyche to a pediatrician in years and seems to be really in denial about the situation.
Dr. Kimberli McCallum, a child psychiatrist, came on the show to discuss eating disorders in children. She says that food represents security and love for children, and hoarding is common especially when the children come from an insecure or unstable environment.
Molly Carmel, a weight management specialist, says that an overweight 11-year-old is a family issue. Unfortunately, obesity is a progressive disease that gets worse without treatment.
Tyche says she hides food because she’s scared her mom will take it away and yell at her. Dr. Oz walked her to the Truth Tube. First he showed her that if she continues to gain weight the way she is now, by the time she’s 18 years old, she will weigh over 400 pounds. Dr. McCallum is starting Tyche on an intensive therapy program, and promises to help her. They exited the stage, and then Dr. Oz tackled the mom.
Moly Carmel bluntly told her that with both parents overweight, the foundation of the home is broken. Nobody can have doughnuts now, so that Tyche can get better. Which only makes sense! Dr. Oz showed us an animation of what Tyche will look like as she gets older, and the mom cried and promised to do whatever it takes.