Rice has been found to contain varying amounts of arsenic. Rice plants absorb arsenic from flooded paddy soils, but the amount and type of arsenic depends on many factors, such as the type of rice, the way the rice is grown, and the way it is processed. Rice soaks up arsenic more easily and at higher levels than other plants, making it a common source of arsenic for many people. As rice is a common alternative grain in the gluten-free diet, it is likely that people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten/wheat sensitivity have more arsenic exposure than those on a standard Western diet, which can negatively affect long-term health. Additionally, people with celiac disease may be more susceptible to health effects from arsenic due to nutritional deficiencies.
Arsenic is found in nature, and we are all exposed to small traces of it through our water and food. But it is also a known human carcinogen; acute exposure can harm the skin, lungs, bladder, liver, and kidneys. Arsenic exposure has been linked to increased rates of bladder and lung cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease.
Celiac Disease Foundation is collaborating with researchers from Dartmouth College to study arsenic exposure in those with celiac disease, seeking to inform the largest and most comprehensive study about arsenic and celiac disease. As a leader in arsenic research, Dartmouth recently launched a new website about arsenic where you can learn more about arsenic in the gluten-free diet and what you can do to reduce your health risk.