Consumer Reports collected a number of protein drinks from stores in and around New York City. The drinks were tested for arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. The problem is that many people are drinking these shakes throughout the day. The study concludes that doing so may result in daily exposure to arsenic, cadmium, or lead that exceeds the limits proposed by United States Pharmacopeia (USP) the official public standards-setting authority for all prescription and over-the counter medicines and other health care products.
A number of different products were tested in the study. I was most concerned with the results of Muscle Milk as I have a couple of these drinks each week after certain types of workouts. Disturbingly, all samples of Muscle Milk tested contained all four heavy metals. Worse yet, levels of cadmium, arsenic and mercury in the product were among the highest of all of the test results.
Cadmium is particularly problematic because it accumulates over time and is known to cause damage to the kidneys. It also may take the average body 20 years to eliminate even half the cadmium absorbed.
The consumer reports article interviewed Michael Harbut, M.D., director of the Environmental Cancer Initiative at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Royal Oak, Mich who said: "This is a highly toxic metal, and while there are some cases where decisions have to be weighed against relative risks, accepting that you have to be exposed to any cadmium at all in your protein drink after your workout is definitely not one of them."
Also of concern is the synergistic effects of the toxic metals at issue. That is, it is believed that each of these metals can combine in the system to magnify their individuals deleterious effects on the body.
The last time I checked, my Muscle Milk carton did not list Cadmium, Arsenic or Mercury on the ingredient label. It could be argued that that is a misrepresentation opening these meal replacement companies up to lawsuits for injuries suffered by active individuals in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania such lawsuits would probably fall under product liability, fraud and/or Unfair Trade Practices Consumer Protection Law.
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