Our Stolen Futurea book by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers
 
 

 
New York Times
2 July 2003

U.S. Is Urged by Panel to Tell Women About Dioxins
By Elizabeth Olson

WASHINGTON, July 1 — The government should encourage women and girls to reduce the amount of meat, whole milk and other fatty foods they eat as a way of protecting themselves and their offspring from dioxins, harmful residues of natural and industrial combustion, an expert panel said today.

A report by the Institute of Medicine, a nonprofit health policy advisory body, recommended that the government do more to educate women and girls about how to limit consumption of dioxins, which can be passed through the placenta to a fetus or through breast milk to an infant.

Dioxin has been linked to cancer and other health problems. Since its health dangers were recognized in the 1970's, levels of dioxins and related chemical compounds have dropped, according to a report this week by the Environmental Protection Agency. But the pollutants linger in the environment and lodge in the fatty tissue of farm animals which eat grass or contaminated feed.

The most direct way to reduce intake of these chemicals, the expert panel said, is to reduce "consumption of dietary fat, especially from animal sources that are known to contain higher levels of these compounds." This includes meat and whole milk, products that Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines include as saturated fats. Current guidelines recommend they be restricted to no more than 10 percent of a person's daily diet.

Dioxin is particularly worrisome for women, who can accumulate it in their bodies for years and then pass it on to their unborn children or nursing infants.

The panel said the government ought to try to "reduce girls' and women's exposure to dioxins in foods during the years well before childbearing, so that less of these compounds accumulate in their bodies." The panel suggested that "government-sponsored food programs such as the National School Lunch Program should increase the availability of foods low in animal fat." That would include low-fat and skim milk, instead of the whole milk now provided to millions of children. This is also recommended for participants in the Special Supplement Food Program for Women, Infants and Children, except for children younger than 2 years.

The 16-member panel held off setting any level for dioxin intake. The panel's chairman, Dr. Robert S. Lawrence, associate dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said that current test costs made it too expensive to measure the levels in food. Instead, the panel urged healthier eating while data is collected to clarify the health risks.

 
   
   

 

 

 

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