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5 Foods Common in the US but Prohibited Internationally Due to Health Concerns


Despite potential health concerns, the United States continues to produce and consume certain foods other countries have banned.

Americans eat five kinds of food other nations have prohibited due to potential health hazards. Despite inconclusive evidence, these foods may disrupt the immune system or increase cancer risk.

1. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

In the United States, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) include corn, soybeans, and canola, but more types are being introduced. GMO tomatoes are expected to be available soon.

GMOs are not subject to stringent restrictions in the United States, leading to considerable controversy regarding their use. Proponents argue that GMOs are safe and enable us to grow larger quantities of food, whereas many critics contend that they pose health risks.

Why, then, do Europe and other countries impose restrictions on GMO products? It is widely believed that natural products are generally healthier. Additionally, the long-term health impacts of genetically modified products remain uncertain.

A 2009 article reviewed studies on the toxicity of GMOs in animals, finding that GMOs may affect the liver, kidneys, pancreas, and reproductive system and “may alter hematological, biochemical, and immunologic parameters.” However, current animal studies and clinical trials on the safety of GMOs remain insufficient.
A study on the effects of genetically modified soybeans on animals found that rats did not exhibit adverse effects after consuming GMO soybeans for 90 days. However, the research period was limited to 90 days, leaving the long-term effects unclear. More robust research on the impact of GMOs on humans is needed.

2. Chlorine-Washed Chicken

The chicken in stores often appears white, fresh, and clean. In reality, much of this chicken has been treated with chlorine-based antimicrobial agents. This process removes and prevents bacterial growth and makes the chicken look exceptionally clean and appealing.

However, a study by the University of Southampton in the UK revealed that chlorine-washed chicken may be unsafe. The study indicated that this method of disinfection does not effectively kill pathogens. Instead, it may cause bacteria to enter a “viable-but-nonculturable (VBNC) state,” allowing them to avoid detection.

Due to these food safety concerns, the European Union has banned chicken treated with chlorine disinfectants, effectively halting almost all imports of American chicken.

3. Milk Produced With Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone

Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is created through genetic recombination technology. It mimics cows’ natural growth hormone and increases milk production by stimulating the proliferation and activity of mammary cells.

As a hormone, rBGH can interfere with human hormone levels, potentially affecting thyroid function.

In 2007, the Cancer Prevention Coalition launched a petition requesting that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban the use of rBGH. However, after a thorough investigation, the FDA rejected the petition in 2016, stating that rBGH “is safe and effective for its intended uses” and that “there is no significant difference between milk from cows treated with rbGH and untreated cows.”

Despite this, Canada, the European Union, and Australia have banned using rBGH for various reasons. However, they have not confirmed that milk and meat from rBGH-treated cows pose any health risks to humans. These regions have not banned the import of dairy products from countries where rBGH use is approved.

4. Hormone-Treated Beef

The fourth issue involves beef from cattle treated with sex hormones. These hormones, including testosterone, estradiol, and progesterone, promote rapid growth in cattle, thereby increasing beef production. However, these sex hormones may have adverse health effects on humans.

The European Union (EU) has banned these hormones in farm animals since 1981, citing estradiol-17-beta’s tumor-promoting effects. The EU also prohibits the import of meat from cattle treated with these hormones.

5. Beverages Containing Brominated Vegetable Oil

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is a plant oil modified with bromine, an emulsifier used primarily in citrus-flavored drinks. The FDA regulates its maximum allowable concentration.

In 2022, an FDA study found that BVO might negatively affect human health, particularly thyroid function.
Since 2008, Europe and countries like Japan have prohibited BVO as a food additive and banned the import of American beverages containing BVO. On Tuesday, July 2, the FDA banned BVO as a food additive. The ban goes into effect on Aug. 2, 2024.

Effects on Immune Function and Increased Cancer Risk

Long-term consumption of foods containing additives, various hormones, and antimicrobials can have systemic effects on our health.

When the immune system becomes dysregulated, its ability to respond to external pathogens can become either excessively reactive or deficient, causing serious health consequences. For example, it can increase the likelihood of allergic reactions. After exposure to certain foods, the body may become more sensitive to various chemical stimuli, leading to conditions such as allergic rhinitis, asthma, and skin allergies. If the immune system remains hyperactive, it can cause erroneous overreactions, resulting in autoimmune diseases.

Additionally, these foods can have a detrimental impact on our digestive tract, leading to symptoms such as indigestion, imbalanced gut microbiome, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. The root cause is the damage these foods inflict on the intestinal mucosa.

Hence, long-term consumption of these foods increases the risk of cancer. When the immune system is compromised, the risk of cancer rises. These foods interfere with the body’s ability to regulate chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, which are fundamental for preventing cancer, managing chronic diseases, and slowing aging.

A study led by Harvard University and published in JAMA Oncology indicated a correlation between immune-mediated diseases and both localized and systemic cancer risks. The study evaluated the association of 48 immune-mediated diseases with overall and site-specific cancer risks among nearly 480,000 participants (average age 56 years) from the UK Biobank.
The findings revealed that among common immune-mediated diseases, asthma increased the risk of lung cancer by 34 percent; rheumatoid arthritis increased the risk of lung cancer by 71 percent and lymphoma by 101 percent; and Type 1 diabetes increased the risk of liver cancer by 182 percent, esophageal cancer by 113 percent, and tonsil cancer by 257 percent.

5 Tips for Avoiding These Foods

  1. Whenever possible, opt for organic foods. Although they are generally more expensive, prioritizing your health by consuming higher-quality foods is essential.
  2. When purchasing products, carefully read the labels and choose those without added color additives, hormones, or antibiotics.
  3. Avoid beverages containing BVO additives. Instead, opt for water or alternatives like coconut water.
  4. Choose foods certified as non-GMO.
  5. Minimize consumption of packaged and processed foods.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Epoch Health welcomes professional discussion and friendly debate. To submit an opinion piece, please follow these guidelines and submit through our form here.

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