High amounts of chemicals found in breast milk

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 24 May 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1501
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. BMJ

    Breast fed infants are receiving up to 17 times the tolerable amount of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), according to a report submitted to the Department of Health.

    High intakes of dioxins and PCBs have caused a wide spectrum of toxic effects in laboratory animals, including cancer and effects on the reproductive and immune system. The World Health Organisation set a tolerable daily intake in 1990 by determining the maximum dose which does not cause adverse effects in laboratory animals, and then extrapolating the figure for humans and applying a large safety margin.

    However, the chief medical officer, Sir Kenneth Calman, said that as the tolerable level is based on lifetime exposure to these pollutants, …

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