Risk-benefit analysis: dietary fiber and heavy metals in cereals and oil seeds

The aim of this study was to examine if eating Finnish cereals and oil seeds cause more health benefits or harm. Cadmium was considered as the chemical hazard and dietary fiber as the useful nutrient. In this study food consumptions, the heavy metal contents and exposures, fiber intake and the biggest safe doses for cereals and seeds were evaluated. DALYs (disability adjusted life years) were used to compare benefits and harms. Exposure was estimated using the statistical BIKE model. To date, no risk benefit analysis concerning cereal and seed consumption is known to have been done. A common method for risk benefit analysis has not yet been developed, but generally a stepwise approach is recommended. Of the foods examined, poppy and sunflower seeds contained the most cadmium, pumpkin seed the least. In the long term, the most consumed seed was sesame and the most consumed cereal was wheat. The greatest cadmium exposure was due to wheat consumption, and for nickel oat consumption. Wheat was clearly the biggest source of fiber. Low fiber intake resulted in more DALYs than cereals’ cadmium resulted in osteoporotic DALYs in 2012. Compared to the situation in 2012, significantly less DALYs were resulted in scenario where 232 g of whole grains per day are consumed. It is because in the scenario, DALYs caused by low fiber intake, which amount is much higher than cadmium DALYs, are not formed. Based on the results obtained, with bigger cereal consumption than in 2012, the health benefits outweigh the disadvantages, as the impact of reducing the DALYs due to low fiber intake is much more significant than the impact of the increase of cadmium DALYs caused by higher intake. In the future, it would be beneficial to have a more comprehensive study of the health effects of the foods examined. However, this requires a lot of information that was not available in this study.

The study is linked to the risk assessment on the heavy metal exposure of Finnish adults: https://www.ruokavirasto.fi/en/organisations/risk-assessment/projects-of-risk-assessment/chemical-food-safety/dietary-heavy-metal-exposure-of-finnish-adults/


Annika Ervasti: MSc thesis ”Riski-hyötyanalyysi: Öljysiementen ja viljojen kuitu ja raskasmetallit”. https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/312838

Page last updated 4/24/2020