Chemical Exposure, Nutrition, & the Environment

 


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Arsenic in Rice – Tips to Lower Levels
By Shahir Masri – May 13, 2015

In my last blog, I discussed arsenic exposure and the largely unknown issue of arsenic in rice. Fortunately for rice eaters, which probably includes most of us, you can reduce your arsenic exposure without having to abandon your favorite rice dishes! That being said, if rice makes up the majority of your diet, it certainly isn’t a bad idea to mix in some alternative dishes (e.g. pasta, other grains). So what is the key to removing arsenic from your rice? Only a very simple adjustment of your cooking and food prep.  


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Arsenic in Rice - Cause for Concern
By Shahir Masri – May 7, 2015
Arsenic is an element with widely recognized toxicity. While most often associated with groundwater contamination, especially in places like India, it turns out that exposures in the U.S. are also not trivial. But how can this be, given that America has the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Safe Drinking Water Act? Because water isn’t the issue for most Americans, it’s the food. And currently no U.S. regulations exist for monitoring arsenic in food. What is the main food to watch out for, you ask? 


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GMOs: Risks, Benefits, & the Current Context
By Shahir Masri – January 24, 2014
It is worth noting some benefits of agricultural biotechnology.  Aside from pest protection, crops are often modified to express desirable nutrients.   In this way, genetic modification has positive potential in malnourished areas.  Sure, nourishing genes such as vitamin precursors are also of benefit in the developed world, but their importance is truly secondary to that of nutrient enrichment in the developing world. 

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Monsanto and GMOs
By Shahir Masri – January 24, 2014

Monsanto’s Roundup Ready™ seeds are probably the most heavily marketed pesticide-resistant crops on the market.  By no coincidence, Monsanto also owns the particular pesticide (Roundup™) these crops are resistant to.  So a farmer who purchases Roundup Ready™ seeds will also need to purchase Roundup™, both products of Monsanto.  And since the crops are resistant to Roundup™, a farmer will actually purchase even more pesticide than usual.  An all-too-beautiful system for the agricultural powerhouse.


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GMOs: What Are the Risks?
By Shahir Masri – January 24, 2014
GMO stands for “genetically modified organism.”  In the context of food, GMOs are plants or animals whose genetic information has been modified, or genetically engineered, usually to produce a greater yield or increase processing efficiency.  In other words, to increase company profits and usually reduce consumer costs.  Unfortunately, however, with such biotechnology has come concern for human health and the environment.  

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Pesticides in Food
By Shahir Masri – December 29, 2011
Since the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s best selling book, Silent Spring, which essentially launched the environmental movement, the use of synthetic pesticides to control pests has been a major issue to the public as well as various heath and environmental groups.  Today, the toxicity of various pesticides is well recognized to reach beyond specific target organisms, affecting both wildlife as well as human health.  Specifically, exposure to pesticides has been associated with a variety of health problems, ranging from mild headaches and fatigue to more severe cancers, birth defects, reduced fertility, and nerve damage.  

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Honey: Where’d All the Pollen Go??
By Shahir Masri – December 14, 2011
According to a study conducted for Food Safety News, most honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t true honey.  This is because of a process known as ultra-filtration which filters out the pollen.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that any honey that has been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey.  That said, the agency has been slow to test honey and prevent false labeling.  Of all the samples tested from major stores such as Costco, Safeway, Sam's Club, Walmart, and Target, over 75% did not contain pollen. 

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Mercury and Fish
By Shahir Masri – November 8, 2011
In recent years, the consumption of fish has been widely advocated due to the health benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids (FAs).  Diets high in fish, however, have also been associated with elevated exposures to toxic chemicals, mainly methyl mercury, and have therefore been linked to adverse health effects.  Such mixed messages have led to much confusion regarding whether or not, or to what extent, fish should be included in one’s diet.  

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Barbequed Meat: A Tip to Reduce Cancer Risk
By Shahir Masri - October 18, 2011
In recent decades, growing evidence has mounted regarding the health effects of a group of compounds known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) which are generated on the surfaces of meats cooked at excessively high temperatures (i.e. frying, grilling, and barbequing).  Among the most mutagenic substances ever studied, HCAs have been implicated as a cause for several cancers... 

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