Psyllium fiber is one of the most popular and affordable healthy supplements on the market. Many brands claim psyllium husk can lower cholesterol, help with weight management, and improve digestion. Unfortunately, several brands also include cancer warnings on products due to elevated lead levels. Does psyllium husk cause cancer? We dive into the research.
Are Psyllium Husk Dangers Overblown?
Some psyllium products include a cancer warning in accordance with California’s Proposition 65. This act requires manufacturers to include carcinogen warnings on products with contaminant levels above predetermined thresholds. Most plants are exposed to contaminants in the field, a direct result of environmental pollution. Plants with elevated contaminant levels usually have lead or other heavy metals, such as arsenic.
Psyllium husk products are no different, but there’s little evidence that they’re any worse than other plant-based food products. The psyllium husk cancer warning is perhaps more visible than similar warnings on imported rice or other readily available products.
Is Psyllium Fiber Safe?
Several studies show psyllium husk lowers colon cancer risk as a regular supplement. An expansive clinical trial also found it may also help lower the risk of breast cancer. The benefits of psyllium husk likely outweigh the risks, but choosing supplements with low lead levels is still important. Talk to your healthcare provider about fiber supplementation before adding it to your diet.
Other benefits of fiber supplements, including psyllium husk, include:
- Improved gut health
- Constipation relief
- Weight loss
Most Americans could use the boost. Only about 5% of American adults get enough fiber in their diet, which may contribute to the nation’s increased rate of digestive-related cancers.
There May Be Better Ways to Lower Your Cancer Risk
The evidence suggests fiber supplementation offers more upside than risk. Take the time to evaluate your preferred products for low lead levels, but research your other fruits and vegetables, too. Your health is worth the homework! Cancer prevention is the future; learn more about our work and donate today!