6 Ways to Limit Your Child's Exposure to Cancer-Causing Toxins in Food

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potato chipYou know how people keep saying our food is loaded with cancer-causing toxins? It's because our food is loaded with cancer-causing toxins. And the eaters we should be most worried about are young children. A new study by UC Davis and UCLA looked at how children are exposed to toxins through their food.

The study looked at the diets of 364 children in California and estimated how high their risk for exposure to toxins is based on what they ate. The findings weren't good. All of the children were found to be at high risk for exposure to toxic compounds including arsenic, dieldrin, DDE (related to DDT), dioxins, and acrylamide -- which are linked to cancer, developmental disabilities, and birth defects.

Preschool children (ages 2-4) are especially at risk because early exposure to toxins can have long-term effects on their health, especially on their developing brains and their chances of getting cancer.

So this is pretty depressing. Toxins, toxins everywhere! It really is as bad as they say it is. I think a lot of us keep this vague idea of toxins in our food in the backs of our minds. Like, somewhere in the closet, buried under stuff like "paying the bills" and "keeping the 2-year-old from running out into the street." Not to mention -- I think we all want to believe that no responsible company would knowingly pump dangerous chemicals into the earth or our food. Right? RIGHT?!?

Ha ha ha, of course they would. They do it all that time. Chemical lobbyists (aka the "Cancer Lobby) are fighting every day to maintain our toxic way of life. What's a parent to do? Well, the researchers knew you'd be asking that question, so their study included suggestions for reducing your kids' risk for exposure.

1. Eat organic or minimally-treated foods. Check out the "dirty dozen" -- the 14 foods you'll most benefit from eating organic.

2. Eat a wide variety of foods. "Varying our diet and our children's diet could help reduce exposure," says the study's lead researcher Irva Hertz-Picciotto. "Because different foods are treated differently at the source, dietary variation can help protect us from accumulating too much of any one toxin."

3. Eat less meat and animal fats and switch to organic milk to reduce your exposure to DDE. Toxins love to hide in animal fats.

4. Eat smaller fish lower down in the food chain to reduce your exposure to metals like mercury. These "safer" fish include: mackerel, catfish, tilapia, sardines, flounder, hake, salmon, oysters.

5. Eat fewer processed foods like potato and tortilla chips, which are high in a cooking byproduct called acrilomide.

6. Get the bigger picture! We need to get companies to reduce their use of the most toxic chemicals. It's one of the keys to making organic (or less-toxic) food less expensive -- but it's also much harder than making a personal choice in the supermarket. A final thing you can do to help reduce the risk for all children is to tell Congress to listen to families instead of chemical companies and pass the Safe Chemicals Act.

Are you concerned about your kids' exposure to toxins?

Image via mollypop/Flickr

in the news, toddler development, toddler health, toddler meal


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tuffy... tuffymama

This is a personal cause of mine. We eat all organic, mostly local. All our meat is humanely and naturally raised. Our drinking and cooking water is reverse osmosis filtered, or artesian. No refined sugar, no grains, no processed foods and no artificial flavors or colors pass our lips. And no soy!!! I brought these kids into this world. The LEAST I can do is give them the best start I can.

nonmember avatar NoWay

@tuffymama ... what do you eat? I personally can't imagine the no grains. My husband has been looking at the Paleo diet, which does sound similar to this. We try to buy local eggs and meats.

Jenn Myers

I hope everyone realizes that Local, unless USDA ORGANIC CERTIFIED, does NOT mean it's organic. we live in a farm area and I have asked sooo many places if they grow organically and most of them tell me they don't but "are working on it" I used organic whole wheat flour and I prefer to make my own bread and jsut freeze it for long term use, organic fruits and veggies or we grow them ourselves seasonally.  I have more organic sorbets in my freezer than i can count. and I try to stick organic sugars especially organic agave. I MAKE ALL my own jams jellies nad tomato sauces. FROM WHO FRUITS  the tomatoes i grow myself cook down and season with my own home grown seasoning and i can them myself. It's easier to do it myself then research the crap out of farms and stores. I like soy rice and almond milk organic only of course.....and we use olivio (salt and olive oil)  instead of nasty butter thats just as bad for as margarine, sans a few omega 3's. or if i really feel like i just buy organic cream and make my own butter and whipped cream, it's simple. Making stuff yourself is the best way, and with number 2 on the way.....i have the pleasure of attempting to make ice cream from breast milk  and might try breast milk cheese as i work with a few people at the spa doing massages that makes his own cheese! so psyched!


Christy Ross Bishop

Great book related to this...Disease Proof Your Child, by Dr. Joel Furhman. This is a big part of why we recently switched our family to a plant-based vegan diet. Meat and dairy are cancer causing. http://www.drfuhrman.com/ http://engine2diet.com/

Vanessa Jones Hadden

Tuffymama, your diet sounds like ours. No dairy, gluten, soy, artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, processed junk, etc. We're on our own artesian well, have our own free range hens for eggs, and only eat clean, humanely raised/processed meats, and not a lot of it. We eat organic, and have our own small organic garden. It's funny that people ask us, "What DO you eat???" I tell them, simply, "Food."

Jenny Hughes

The carcinogenic by-product of fry oil is acrylamide in tip#5.

Yana Perchikova

1. 364 Children is not a scientific study. Plus the children were from the same town, making a bad batch of food likely the cause. Need a national study with 10,000+ children.
2.Organic food in not safer.Certified organic fruit contains pesticide AND antibiotics!! You have to know which varieties are safe to eat, not just organic.
3. 3. Eat less meat and animal fats and switch to organic milk to reduce your exposure to DDE. Toxins love to hide in animal fats.----- Wrong advice. Eliminate all product from a cow. Drink almond milk.
4.4. Eat smaller fish lower down in the food chain to reduce your exposure to metals like mercury. These "safer" fish include: mackerel, catfish, tilapia, sardines, flounder, hake, salmon, oysters. Stupid advice showing writer does not know what they are talking about. Oysters??? They are the WORST thing to eat. They are at the bottom of the water where all the toxins settle. Salmon?? WRONG. Farmed salmon is extremely toxic. Founder??? WRONG!! They are bottom feeders. Catfish are farmed too, as are Tilapia. Tilapia is the worst fish you can possibly eat, as I have already stated. HORRIBLE advice from a know-nothing writer.

IKnow... IKnow0101

@Tuffymom and Jenn- I would love to know where you can get some recipes from making your own jam and bread.  I would love to grow my own veggies and such but I am at a lost on how to start.  I don't live in a climate that is great for growing food.

Kathy Kalous

I just saw an article not too long ago that Kashi isn't organic...I also listened to an NPR story about how these organic foods companies don't have farmers filling seats to help with company decision making, but businessmen. Go figure.

Nice that people like Tuffymama can give her children the best of everything, but we're not all able to do that. :(

Craft... CraftyJenna

Kathy: Everyone does the best they are able to do for their kids. It's all any of us can do. In my house, we have been making a slow transition to organic as we can afford it. We only drink organic milk, and the rest of it, well, I do my best. We buy minimal processed meat, and I make as much as I can from scratch. Not perfect maybe but we're not rich. :/

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