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Arsenic in Beer, White Wine and Brussel Sprout

Another screaming headline that is an attention grabber for sure, but not entirely accurate.  The arsenic is in the water!  Well, some of it.


The story came from and it quotes a study by researchers in New Hampshire of the toenails of 852 people.  Turns out that those whose diets included beer, white wine, Brussels sprouts and dark meat fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines had higher levels of arsenic.


The article went on to say that the new study was the first to take into account the levels of arsenic in participants’ household water. In the study, most of the participants’ water had lower levels of arsenic than the levels allowed by the EPA but 52 participants had higher levels than the EPA’s limits.


Arsenic is a naturally occurring element and in the end, it didn’t say whether the arsenic in the toenails was life threatening or not.  It did show that diet could affect arsenic levels.  There are several scenarios for the presence of arsenic in beer and wine.  Perhaps the ingredients were high in arsenic to start with.  Or it might have occurred during the filtration process.  Or maybe consumption of alcohol reduces the body’s ability to deal with arsenic.  In that case, they should be studying ingestion of all alcohol, not just beer and white wine.


The study concluded with advice to consumers to eat a mixed diet, not eat the same thing every day.   Also, if drinking water comes from a private well, check it annually.