Chicken With a Side of Arsenic: 4 Reasons to Go Organic

We can no longer hide behind the shield of ignorance.  The foods we are eating are killing us.  Slowly.

Orthorexia nervosa is the term used by some psychologists to refer to those of us who go out of our way to live healthy, unprocessed and organic.  While the Latin origins of the word “orthorexia” mean “correct diet,” the lifestyle associated with this has someone now become an actual psychological diagnosis (although not recognized in the new DSM-V).

One could argue that, 10,000 years ago, everyone would have fit the diagnosis.  It is the way we were MEANT to live.  But society has become so accepting of toxic foodstuff and exposures that anyone who does not accept them to some degree is pathologic.

Go figure.

For those of you not eating organic animal products, it’s time for a wake up call.  They should be avoided as much as possible.  There are already a variety of reasons that I have covered in previous blog post that can be read by clicking here.

Before we get to this article, we need to cover a short primer on the heavy metal arsenic.  Without going into too much detail, the mathmatical equation “arsenic = bad” should pretty much sum it up.  Kidney damage, cancer and death (arguably the worst of the 3…) are well known side effects, just to name a few.  Typical exposures are usually through water. but food can be a source as well.

Arsenic containing compounds are used often in the chicken industry (a compound called Roxarsone) to make the chickens grow faster.  Sounds like a great idea to me.  It’s a surprise the bodybuilding community hasn’t picked up on this fantastic idea themselves.  So what if it’s extremely toxic if it’ll help you get bigger faster??

But seriously, though…who EVER thought adding a toxic, carcinogenic (so carcinogenic that even the American Cancer Society agrees that it causes cancer) compound to our food supply?  Luckily as we’ll see from this particular study, organic chicken is a safer choice:

  1. Arsenic levels were TRIPLE the amount in conventional versus organic and antibiotic-free chicken (the organic was only slightly better).
  2. Roxarsone was detected in 20 of 40 conventional samples, 1 of 13 antibiotic-free samples, and none of the 25 organic samples.
  3. Researchers estimated that consumers of conventional chicken would ingest an additional 0.11 µg/day of arsenic compared with consumers of organic chicken.
  4. This increase in arsenic exposure could result in 3.7 additional lifetime bladder and lung cancer cases per 100,000 exposed persons.

While these numbers aren’t very large (3.7 cases out of 100,000 people), it is yet another piece of the puzzle of human chronic disease.  While you may think that this is hard to balance out against the high cost of organic chicken (Costco sells it for about $6/lb), it gets balanced out by smaller serving sizes, which you should be doing anyway.   A plant based lifestyle can still include chicken and beef, but only the higher quality variety.

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.