Rice consumption contributes to arsenic exposure in US women

Diane Gilbert-Diamond, Kathryn L. Cottingham, Joann F. Gruber, Tracy Punshon, Vicki Sayarath, A. Jay Gandolfi, Emily R. Baker, Brian P. Jackson, Carol L. Folt, Margaret R. Karagas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

262 Scopus citations


Emerging data indicate that rice consumption may lead to potentially harmful arsenic exposure. However, few human data are available, and virtually none exist for vulnerable periods such as pregnancy. Here we document a positive association between rice consumption and urinary arsenic excretion, a biomarker of recent arsenic exposure, in 229 pregnant women. At a 6-mo prenatal visit, we collected a urine sample and 3-d dietary record for water, fish/seafood, and rice. We also tested women's home tap water for arsenic, which we combined with tap water consumption to estimate arsenic exposure through water. Women who reported rice intake (n = 73) consumed a median of 28.3 g/d, which is ∼0.5 cup of cooked rice each day. In general linear models adjusted for age and urinary dilution, both rice consumption (g, dry mass/d) and arsenic exposure through water (μg/d)were significantly associated with natural log-transformed total urinary arsenic (β rice= 0.009, β water = 0.028, both P < 0.0001), as well as inorganic arsenic, monomethylarsonic acid, and dimethylarsinic acid (each P < 0.005). Based on total arsenic, consumption of 0.56 cup/d of cooked rice was comparable to drinking 1 L/d of 10 μg As/L water, the current US maximum contaminant limit. US rice consumption varies, averaging ∼0.5 cup/d, with Asian Americans consuming an average of >2 cups/d. Rice arsenic content and speciation also vary, with some strains predominated by dimethylarsinic acid, particularly those grown in the United States. Our findings along with others indicate that rice consumption should be considered when designing arsenic reduction strategies in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20656-20660
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 20 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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