Friday, February 16, 2007

Critical Analysis of Food Irradiation

In addition to potential cancer promotion due to products formed by irradiation of fat in foods (see my ongoing rant in the previous post), there are further concerns linking food irradiation to cancer risk.

Amazingly, it seems most vitamins remain intact after irradiation, with the distinct exception of Vitamin D and folate, both of which are diminished by irradiation. Interestingly enough, a lack of both sufficient vitamin D and folate are linked to an increased risk of cancer.

This association [of high vitamin D and calcium levels with low cancer rates] remained significant after adjustment for age, daily cigarette consumption, body mass index, ethanol consumption, and percentage of calories obtained from fat (source).

There is overwhelming evidence that folate is protective against cancer.

Collectively, the evidence from epidemiologic, animal and human studies strongly suggests that folate status modulates the risk of developing cancers in selected tissues, the most notable of which is the colorectum. Folate depletion appears to enhance carcinogenesis whereas folate supplementation above what is presently considered to be the basal requirement appears to convey a protective effect (source).

There appear to be several mechanisms whereby irradiated foods could increase a consumer’s risk of cancer. If irradiated produce starts hitting the market, in a big way, I recommend vitamin D and folate supplementation, at the very least.

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