A gluten-free diet increases the risk of arsenic and mercury exposure


In Illinois, University of Illinois Chicago researchers found eating a gluten-free diet can lead to a risk of exposure to arsenic and mercury – toxic metals that can lead to cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurological effects. Gluten-free products often contain rice flour as a substitute for wheat and rice is known to bioaccumulate toxic metals from fertilizers, soil and water; but little is known about the health effects of diets high in rice content.

The researchers examined data within the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that participants who reported eating a gluten-free diet had almost twice the arsenic in their urine and 70 percent more mercury in their blood, than those who did not.

A gluten-free diet is recommended for people with celiac disease, but less than 1 percent of Americans have been diagnosed. By 2015, the number of Americans eating gluten-free increased to one-quarter of the population.