Cheerios and Cancer: Is There a Link? (2023)

Cheerios and Cancer: Is There a Link? (1)Share on Pinterest

You sit down with a bowl of Cheerios and you think you’re starting your day with a healthy breakfast, right? Well, it may not be that simple.

Cheerios and many other cereals and grain-based products contain small amounts of an herbicide called glyphosate. It’s one of the main ingredients in the widely used weed killer Roundup, and it’s been the subject of considerable debate among health experts about whether it is carcinogenic.

So does that mean Cheerios cause cancer? There’s no definitive proof. Some regulatory agencies contend that the levels of glyphosate in the popular cereal are too low to be a health risk.

However, other organizations, including the Environmental Working Group (EWG), maintain that glyphosate levels in Cheerios continue to be above safe levels.

You won’t find glyphosate listed among the ingredients on Cheerios or any food product. Scientists know it’s there by testing foods for traces of herbicides and pesticides. They measure the level of glyphosate and other toxins in parts per billion (ppb).

The EWG found that levels of glyphosate in Cheerios were 729 ppb and in Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch the levels reached 833 ppb. The EWG considers 160 ppb to be the highest level safe for children’s food.

Even with glyphosate levels that are much higher than the EWG’s maximum recommended amount, it’s not entirely clear whether Cheerios actually poses a cancer risk. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on the other hand, has determined that glyphosate is “unlikely to be human carcinogen.” The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cited the EPA’s finding in a statement about glyphosate and noted that in the food products tested by the FDA, glyphosate levels were all within EPA standards.

As a result, two of the main regulatory bodies concerned with consumer product safety have determined that foods that contain trace amounts of glyphosate residue are unlikely to cause cancer when eaten in normal amounts.

A study of many products sold in Canada between 2015 and 2017, including fruits, vegetables, grain products, and other finished foods found that 99.4 percent of them had glyphosate levels within Canadian regulatory limits and were “safe to eat.”

However, experts warn that there’s a need for research on the health effects of glyphosate that’s completely free from industry support.

For example, in a 2018 article in Environmental Health, researchers note concerned that the pesticide manufacturing industry may have interfered with research findings and tainted results from past reviews, including the 2017 European Union evaluation that authorized the use of glyphosate through 2022.

In 2020, Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios were recalled, but not because of glyphosate. General Mills, the company that makes Cheerios and other popular breakfast cereals, issued a recall of the cereals produced at its Lodi, California, site because wheat flour was found in the products that were labeled as gluten-free.

For people with wheat sensitivities or celiac disease, having faith that products labeled “gluten-free” are indeed free of gluten is critical to avoiding digestive symptoms and other health complications.

Despite the extensive media coverage and concern from public health advocates, products containing glyphosate have not been subject to a recall — at least not because of the herbicide itself.

In 2000, the EPA announced a voluntary consumer product safety recall for two product container problems. The products were Monsanto’s Roundup Ready-to-Use Weed and Grass Killer and Scotts Ortho Ready-to-Use Home Defense Indoor & Outdoor Insect Killer5.

They were sold in Pull ‘N Spray containers with a T-handle pump and application wand that didn’t always work properly and exposed the users directly to the herbicide and pesticide within the containers.

Glyphosate is an herbicide first approved for use in 1974. It has since become one of the most commonly used herbicides in the United States. It’s used in industrial products farmers apply to crops, as well as products, such as Roundup for homeowners to use to get rid of weeds in lawns and gardens.

Because farmers spray the herbicide on oat crops, some of it may remain on the grains as they are processed into Cheerios and other products. The EWG noted that in addition to Cheerios, higher levels of glyphosate were found on General Mills products such as Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars.

Researchers at Oregon State University note that while research on glyphosate’s cancer risks has led to mixed findings, when the chemical is ingested it is digested and expelled from the body in urine and stool quickly. And it does not appear that there are long-term health impacts to the immune or nervous systems either.

Glyphosate is the main chemical of concern with Cheerios. If you want to cut down the risk of ingesting glyphosate or other dangerous herbicides, such as paraquat, look for products labeled organic and made with ingredients that weren’t exposed to certain herbicides and pesticides including glyphosate.

General Mills hasn’t banned its farmers from using glyphosate, but in 2019 announced that it is encouraging them to find safer, alternative methods of protecting their crops.

Kellogg Company, however, announced in early 2020 that it planned to phase out the use of glyphosate in its products by the end of 2025. Kellogg is the maker of cereals such as Mini-Wheats and Special K.

Every year, the EWG releases its list of the “Dirty Dozen” foods that are among the highest in pesticides and herbicides. The foods that typically make the list are nonorganic strawberries, apples, and other thin-skinned produce.

If you’re concerned about your exposure to glyphosate and other herbicides and pesticides, check out the EWG’s “Clean 15” list of fruits and vegetables that tend to have the lowest levels of chemical toxins.

Healthy breakfast alternatives

You have plenty of options other than Cheerios and breakfast cereals with which to start your day. Healthy breakfasts can include the following:

  • Eggs. An excellent source of protein, eggs contain other nutrients, including choline and lutein.
  • Oatmeal. When made from steel cut oats, which retain most of the whole grain, oatmeal is rich in fiber and more nutritious than processed oatmeal products.
  • Greek yogurt. Also a solid source of protein, Greek yogurt is also high in calcium and B vitamins.
  • Berries. An excellent source of fiber and immune-boosting antioxidants, berries are a delicious way to start your day.

The breakfast cereal Cheerios has been found to contain trace amounts of a widely used herbicide called glyphosate, which is the main ingredient in the weed killer Roundup.

The EWG contends that glyphosate may raise the risk of cancer, while other organizations say there isn’t evidence yet that the chemical is carcinogenic, especially in the levels found in packaged food.

The agencies that oversee food safety in the United States have not recommended against the consumption of Cheerios or demanded the cereal be recalled or banned from store shelves. However, some organizations that test food for safety have raised concerns that the glyphosate levels in Cheerios may be higher than acceptable limits.

The choice of whether to eat Cheerios and other breakfast cereals is up to you — but remember you do have many other healthy options for the first meal of the day.


Are Cheerios now safe to eat? ›

Some regulatory agencies contend that the levels of glyphosate in the popular cereal are too low to be a health risk. However, other organizations, including the Environmental Working Group (EWG), maintain that glyphosate levels in Cheerios continue to be above safe levels.

Does Honey Nut Cheerios have Roundup? ›

The two highest levels of glyphosate were found in Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch, with 833 parts per billion, or ppb, and Cheerios, with 729 ppb. The EWG children's health benchmark is 160 ppb. EWG purchased products via online retail sites.

Are Cheerios really a healthy cereal? ›

The bottom line

They're not only low in fat and calories but also affordable and packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Yet, Cheerios are a processed food, and some flavors are loaded with sugar. As such, you should minimize your intake or choose low sugar varieties like plain or multigrain.

Is a bowl of Cheerios a good snack? ›

This classic children's snack can work for adults, too, Jantz says. In fact, you can enjoy an entire cup of crunchy Cheerios for a healthy snack that's only 104 calories. You'll also score nearly 3 g of fiber, meaning it's a good source, and some calcium (about 100 mg), according to estimates from the USDA.

Do Cheerios have metal in them? ›

The iron you see in your cereal is elemental iron- actual metallic iron filings or shavings similar to the little flakes you might see come off of a steel wool pad when you squeeze or rub it, just much smaller. That's right, you're eating metal in the morning!

What is the recall of Cheerios? ›

General Mills is recalling 1.8 million boxes of Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios produced at a plant in Lodi, California, saying the cereal is labeled gluten-free but actually contains wheat. The recall affects Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios that were made in July.

What cereal does not have Roundup in it? ›

Natures Path
  • Nature's Path Organic Whole O's.
  • Nature's Path Organic Honey Peanut Butter Crunch Cereal.
  • Nature's Path Organic Sunrise Crunchy Vanilla Cereal.
  • Nature's Path Organic Love Crunch Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter.
Jun 17, 2019

What is the healthiest cold cereal to eat? ›

Top 10 Healthiest Breakfast Cereals
  • Nature's Path Flax Plus Raisin Bran. ...
  • Kashi Go Rise. ...
  • Kashi Go Play Honey Almond Flax Crunch. ...
  • Alpen Muesli. ...
  • Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Muesli. ...
  • Barbara's Original Morning Oat Crunch Cereal. ...
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Purely O's. ...
  • Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola.

What cereals are high in glyphosate? ›

15 Cereals With the Most Glyphosate
  • Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch (833 ppb)
  • Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal (729 ppb)
  • Nature Valley Crunchy granola bars, Maple Brown Sugar (566 ppb)
  • Nature Valley Granola Cups, Almond Butter (529 ppb)
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios (400 ppb)

Which is healthier Cheerios or oatmeal? ›

A. Oatmeal, particularly the slow-cooked kind, is generally healthier than Cheerios. Both are made from whole oats, but the difference comes down to processing. Unprocessed whole oats, like those in steel-cut oatmeal, take a while for the body to digest.

Are Cheerios or eggs healthier? ›

The study, by researchers in Boston, shows that we should be starting our day with a big bowl of cheerios - as they're a healthier option than protein-based meals such as eggs.

Which is the healthiest Cheerios? ›

The healthiest version of Cheerios is the Cheerios Classic (the yellow box). Cheerios is praised as a healthy cereal brand because of its higher fiber content and lower sugar levels (just 1 gram per serving). They're also oat-based (as opposed to rice-based).

Which is healthier eggs or oatmeal? ›

Eggs = More Protein

According to USDA, a breakfast with 2 medium eggs will yield approximately 13g Protein and 1.1g Carbs whereas a bowl of oatmeal will give you 2.4 g Protein and 12g Carbs. So if Protein is your priority for breakfast then the clear choice is Eggs.

Is Raisin Bran good for you? ›

Raisin bran is rich in fiber and a variety of micronutrients that are added through fortification. Getting enough of these nutrients may help reduce your risk of diseases associated with deficiencies in them.

Is peanut butter good for you to eat? ›

Peanut butter is loaded with so many good, health-promoting nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium, iron, selenium and vitamin B6. Research shows that people who regularly eat nuts and nut butter, including peanut butter, are less likely to develop heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

What foods have no heavy metals? ›

Though many plants can absorb trace amounts of dangerous metals from the soil or from contaminated water, pretty much all fruits and veggies are very low in or entirely free from heavy metals. Dairy is also safe, as is most meat besides seafood.

Are Cheerios bioengineered ingredients? ›

The crops most likely to be genetically modified include alfalfa, canola, corn, soy and sugar beets. But the principal ingredient of both regular and Honey Nut Cheerios is oats, a plant that is not genetically modified.

Are Cheerios magnetic? ›

Turns out, Cheerios are magnetic. Or are they? Fill a bowl with water and drop in a couple Cheerios. Take a magnet and hold it just above the Cheerios, the Cheerio will be attracted toward the direction of the magnet.

What is the most unhealthy cereal in the US? ›

7 cereals that do not qualify as 'healthy' based on the FDA's new definition:
  • Raisin Bran (9g of added sugars)
  • Honey Nut Cheerios (12g of added sugars)
  • Corn Flakes (300mg of sodium; 4g of added sugars)
  • Honey Bunches of Oats, Honey Roasted (8g of added sugars)
  • Frosted Mini Wheats (12g of added sugars)
Oct 11, 2022

Why is Cheerios changing their name? ›

Quaker Oats didn't like it, though, and filed a trademark infringement against General Mills for the use of “oats” in the brand name. Instead of a drawn-out fight, General Mills changed the name to Cheerios. The name played to the O shape of the puffed oats and created a more fun and evocative brand name.

Why did they change Cheerios? ›

More Americans are buying Cheerios, after a decision by General Mills to guarantee the cereal would be gluten-free. With a switch-up in manufacturing (the company now sifts its oats) and sourcing, Cheerios ended General Mills' fourth quarter in June with notable sales improvement.

What is the safest oatmeal to eat? ›

"Steel-cut oats are the least processed [type of oats] and the best option health-wise," says Kylie Ivanir, MS, RD, a registered dietitian with Within Nutrition. "The fibers in them are very healthy for the gut, hormones, satiety, and weight loss."

Do Doritos have Roundup in them? ›

They found glyphosate in products such as Lay's Kettle Cooked Original Potato Chips, corn-based Doritos Cool Ranch, Wheaties, oat-based Cheerios, Corn Flakes and Whole Grain Cheez-Its. They found glyphosate in 29 of the 41 products they tested.

Is oatmeal full of Roundup? ›

Some oats and oat cereals contain traces of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide. Government groups say these levels are safe, but science shows some potential risks that may make glyphosate free oats a better choice.

Is a bowl of cereal healthier than ice cream? ›

But while many brands may boast about their cereals' fiber and low-cholesterol content, far more are brimming with added sugar. HealthGrove, a health and nutrition data site by Graphiq, identified the breakfast cereals with more sugar than a scoop of ice cream.

Is peanut butter a glyphosate? ›

“It is important to understand that glyphosate is not used on peanuts during the season, because it is not a “'Roundup-Ready crop,'” according to Dr. Prostko. “Growers do not apply glyphosate on peanuts during the growing season, but some farmers use glyphosate to manage weeds prior to planting.” Dr.

What brand of oatmeal does not have glyphosate? ›

Back Roads is one of the only companies in the U.S. selling organic oat products that are also certified glyphosate residue free.

Do eggs have glyphosate? ›

These data indicate that traces of glyphosate are common in conventional eggs and cannot be excluded in organic eggs.

Is Honey Nut Cheerios better than regular Cheerios? ›

It actually has about nine times as much sugar as plain Cheerios, per serving. An Environmental Working Group analysis of a number of popular cereals — a report that linked sugary cereals to the “nation's childhood obesity epidemic” — put Honey Nut Cheerios's sugar content second only to Fruity Pebbles.

What's better for you Cheerios or Honey Nut Cheerios? ›

But none of these cereals are great sources of these nutrients considering that daily protein intake should be in the neighbourhood of 50-70 g, and fiber 25-30 g. Clearly, nutrition-wise, the best option of these three popular cereals is plain Cheerios.

Do Cheerios really help lower cholesterol? ›

“Cheerios is ... clinically proven to lower cholesterol. A clinical study showed that eating two 1.5 cup servings daily of Cheerios cereal reduced bad cholesterol when eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.”

Should I eat Cheerios for breakfast? ›

For a healthy breakfast, stick to classic Cheerios. “They contain a good amount of fiber and are low in sugar, all those things that we look for [in a healthy cereal],” Spetz explains.

Which is healthier Lucky Charms or Cheerios? ›

In the new ranking, on a scale of 1 to 100, Cheerios earned a “healthfulness” score of 95 and Lucky Charms 60; while a fried egg was 29, cheddar cheese 28, and ground beef just 26.

Are Cheerios okay for diabetics? ›

Plain Cheerios are the best choice for a diabetic diet. Why? Because the flavored versions are much higher in sugar and won't provide the same benefits. It's best to stick with the whole grain, plain-flavored version so that you don't risk a spike in blood sugar in the morning.

What is the best cereal to eat dry? ›

Over 150,000 people voted, and CINNAMON TOAST CRUNCH was named the best "dry cereal" to eat without milk. Honey Nut Cheerios was next, and then Cookie Crisp.

Do Cheerios have real honey? ›

Honey Nut Cheerios is sweeter than the original, with a honey and almond flavor. While Honey Nut Cheerios used to be made with actual nuts, as of 2006, the nuts were discontinued, and natural flavor, from peach and apricot pit is used instead.
Honey Nut Cheerios.
General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios, with milk
5 more rows

Why is cream of wheat good for you? ›

Cream of Wheat is particularly rich in iron, along with B vitamins like niacin, vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin, and folate. B vitamins are involved in many aspects of health, including energy production, brain function, and DNA synthesis ( 2 ).

Is 2 Scrambled eggs for breakfast healthy? ›

Eating eggs leads to elevated levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as the “good” cholesterol. People who have higher HDL levels have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and other health issues. According to one study, eating two eggs a day for six weeks increased HDL levels by 10%.

Is Eggland's Best Really Better? ›

As a superior alternative to ordinary eggs, Eggland's Best offers higher nutritional content, less saturated fat and fewer calories. EB eggs contain 10 times more vitamin E, more than twice the amount of omega-3s, more than double the amount of vitamin B, and six times more vitamin D than ordinary eggs.

What is the best breakfast for a flat stomach? ›

The #1 Best Breakfast for a Flat Belly, Say Dietitians
  • Omelet or egg scramble with vegetables.
  • One slice of whole-grain toast (optional: with avocado), or a serving of fresh fruit.
Nov 12, 2021

What is the healthiest brand of raisin bran? ›

If you want healthy raisin bran, check out Cascadian Farm Organic Raisin Bran, which has 6 grams of fiber and only 13 grams of sugar per cup serving, or Erewhon Raisin Bran, which has 6 grams of fiber and 10 grams of sugar per cup serving.

Is Special K cereal good for you? ›

Source of nutrients: Special K cereal is a good source of vitamins A and D and an excellent source of vitamin C, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, and vitamins B12 and B6, and can be consumed as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.

What is the number one food that causes high blood pressure? ›

Salt or sodium

Salt, or specifically the sodium in salt, is a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease. This is because of how it affects fluid balance in the blood. Table salt is around 40 percent sodium. Some amount of salt is important for health, but it's easy to eat too much.

What 3 foods cardiologists say to avoid? ›

Top Foods Cardiologists Want You to Avoid for a Healthy Heart
  • Red meat (including “the other white meat”) ...
  • Bacon, hot dogs, and other processed meats. ...
  • French fries and other fried foods. ...
  • Sugary drinks and cereals. ...
  • Potato chips and snack foods. ...
  • Full-fat dairy products. ...
  • Baked goods, cookies, and pastries.
Feb 1, 2023

Why honey is good for you? ›

In addition to its use as a natural sweetener, honey is used as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial agent. People commonly use honey orally to treat coughs and topically to treat burns and promote wound healing.

Which cereals do not contain glyphosate? ›

6 Tasty Cereals That Don't Contain Glyphosate, the Weed-Killing Chemical Linked to Cancer
  • Kashi by Kids Organic Berry Crumble Cereal. ...
  • Nature's Path Organic Corn Puffs Gorilla Munch Cereal. ...
  • Annie's Organic Cereal, Cocoa Bunnies. ...
  • Go Raw Organic Superfood Sprouted Granola. ...
  • Barbara's Bakery Organic Honest O's Cereal.
5 days ago

When did Cheerios change? ›

In July 3, 1976, "Cinnamon Nut Cheerios" was the first departure from the original flavor of Cheerios, over 30 years after the cereal was created, the second was "Honey Nut Cheerios", introduced on March 1, 1979.

Which cereals are ultra processed? ›

Cereal: plain oats, corn flakes and shredded wheat are minimally processed, but when the manufacturer adds sugar, flavourings or colourings, they become ultra-processed cereals. Try sticking to cereals such as porridge, corn flakes, bran flakes, weetabix etc rather than the more processed versions.

Are Cheerios clean eating? ›

Regardless of the flavor, Cheerios is marketed as a healthy cereal as it's primarily made with whole-grain oats. This means that all Cheerios products are high-fiber cereals. Unlike other cereals, Cheerios products don't use artificial colorings or flavorings. Most products are also gluten free.

What foods have the highest glyphosate? ›

Corn and soy are the biggest glyphosate users, but chickpeas, wheat, and oat crops are also heavily treated with it as well. The EPA-approved use of glyphosate is as an herbicide, but there's another, more controversial, “off-label” use.

Did Cheerios change their ingredients? ›

Original Cheerios has always been made with whole grain oats, and there are no GMO oats. We do use a small amount of corn starch in cooking, and just one gram of sugar per serving for taste. And now that corn starch comes only from non-GM corn, and our sugar is only non-GM pure cane sugar.

What is the oldest cereal still around? ›

1. Frosted Flakes, 1952. Since 1952, kids and adults have been enjoying Kellogg's Frosted Flakes (via Kellogg's). Launched a year after the first frosted corn flake cereal — Post's Corn-Fetti — Frosted Flakes have long outlasted the version from their rival cereal maker.

What is the number 1 healthiest cereal? ›

Check your eligibility here.
  • Healthy Cereal #1: Kashi Organic Honey Toasted Oat Cereal. ...
  • Healthy Cereal #2: General Mills Cheerios. ...
  • Healthy Cereal #3: Nature's Path Heritage Flakes. ...
  • Healthy Cereal #4: Kellogg's All-Bran Buds. ...
  • Healthy Cereal #5: Post Grape-Nuts. ...
  • Healthy Cereal #6: Bob's Red Mill Old Country Style Muesli.
Oct 30, 2022

Is Cheerios a processed cereal? ›

Cheerios: A processed cereal with a harmfully high heat manufacturing process. KUDOS TO CHEERIOS for having whole grain oats as the first ingredient. Unfortunately that's where the positives end as the cereal still has its share of processed ingredients and is made via the harmful extrusion process.

What is one of the unhealthiest cereals? ›

7 cereals that do not qualify as 'healthy' based on the FDA's new definition:
  • Raisin Bran (9g of added sugars)
  • Honey Nut Cheerios (12g of added sugars)
  • Corn Flakes (300mg of sodium; 4g of added sugars)
  • Honey Bunches of Oats, Honey Roasted (8g of added sugars)
  • Frosted Mini Wheats (12g of added sugars)
Oct 11, 2022

Is oatmeal healthier than Cheerios? ›

Oatmeal, particularly the slow-cooked kind, is generally healthier than Cheerios. Both are made from whole oats, but the difference comes down to processing. Unprocessed whole oats, like those in steel-cut oatmeal, take a while for the body to digest.


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