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Can Peanut Butter Cause Cancer?

Posted Mar 11 2012 3:37pm
Say it ain’t so! If you’ve read some of my pervious posts you already know that I’m a peanut butter junkie! Recently, my mom expressed concerns about my PB habits after reading somewhere that the carcinogens in peanut butter can cause cancer. Since I refuse to believe anything I’m told until I do a little research, I decided to do just that.So what is a carcinogen anyways? According to Merriam-Webster, a carcinogen is any “substance or agent causing cancer.”Woah! I don’t want my “healthy” snacks leading to my demise! So I searched more online to see if I should be concerned. And thankfully I learned peanut butter itself isn’t a carcinogen, but there is a mold that can grow on peanuts that produces aflatoxin which is a carcinogen.

Thankfully, there are ways that you can kill the toxin and there are even peanuts that are aflatoxin free! Most articles I read seemed to think that the carcinogen levels in peanut butter consumed in moderation is nothing to worry about.

I also found it very interesting that the brands with the lowest levels of aflatoxin are brands many foodies consider “unhealthy”. The lowest amount of this toxin was found in big supermarket brand like Jif, Skippy and Peter Pan and the highest amounts were found in peanut butters ground fresh in health food stores.

You can avoid any concerns altogether by switching to almond butter or cashew butter but they are often much more expensive and have a very different taste than my beloved peanut version.

The best news I found was that you can avoid all peanut butter sans toxins as long as you refrigerate it. Here’s the Discovery article  in case you’re interested in reading. The article states that no one should assume “that switching to the overly processed, non-organic version of peanut butter will save you because those peanuts are treated with a host of pesticides that seep right through that thin skin.”

In conclusion, follow these directions when shopping for your next jar and you’ve got nothing to worry about:

1. Buy organic to prevent pesticide contamination 
2. Refrigerate your jar to prevent the growth of fungus. 
3. If you’re particularly concerned, opt for high end brands like Arrowhead Mills which are aflatoxin free. 

Personally, I think I’ll stick with the brands I’ve been using all along and toss them in the fridge. I might consider switching to organic since I do have a history of breast cancer in my family. Never ever will you see me giving up peanut butter unless there is a complete proof that it’s going to lead to health problems though!

For more information on the topic, check out some of the articles that caused my panic as well as those that calmed my concerns:

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