• U.S.

Eating Causes Cancer

1 minute read

If a man-made chemical at any dose causes cancer in laboratory animals, the law says it can’t be used as a food additive. But a wide variety of naturally occurring chemicals, found in all sorts of foods, can cause cancer in animals as well. A team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory has tested 80 such natural carcinogens. Its conclusion, reported in Science, is that natural chemicals may be significantly riskier than artificial ones. Among the foods that cause problems: wine, lettuce, apples, mangoes and whole-wheat toast.

At least, the chemicals in these foods are carcinogenic in rats, which may or may not mean anything for humans; and they are tested at very high doses, which may not apply at the levels people normally ingest. And that, the authors emphasize, is the point: the traditional method used to assess cancer risk is flawed and should be reformed.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com