Titanium dioxide in food supply increases risk of cancer, dementia

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titanium-dioxide(NaturalHealth365)  Titanium dioxide, a common food additive, has traditionally been considered an “inert and safe” substance.  But the widespread use of E171 – titanium dioxide nanoparticles – has added a scary new wrinkle.

A recent study found that both engineered titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2-NPs) and the titanium dioxide food additive E171 exhibit cytotoxic and genotoxic effects, suggesting that exposure to these additives may be hazardous to health.  Furthermore, a headline-making Australian study shows that E171 can affect the balance of gut bacteria – promoting inflammation and setting the stage for conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colon cancer.

This is alarming news, as manufacturers use E171 abundantly as a whitening agent in processed foods, personal care products, and medicines.  In fact, close to a thousand popular products – from powdered doughnuts to breath mints to sunscreen – contain E171.

Warning about titanium dioxide in our food supply and the risk of cancer

Titanium dioxide nanoparticles – also called ultrafine titanium dioxide or nanocrystalline titanium dioxide – typically have diameters measuring under 100 nanometers.  And, to give an idea of their infinitesimal size, a single nanometer is one million times smaller than a millimeter.

These nanoparticles are capable of penetrating cells and interfering with cell mechanisms – and can even make it to cell nuclei – where they directly interfere with the structure and function of DNA.

E171 is, by far, the most common of the titanium dioxide-containing materials.  And it’s a very persistent substance in the environment.

Research has shown that E171 can enter rivers and streams as treated sewage from wastewater treatment plants – a matter that raises concern from natural health experts and environmentalists.

By the way, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has already classified titanium dioxide as a possible carcinogen.  And there’s more bad news about titanium dioxide nanoparticles.

According to a scholarly review published in Environmental Science and Technology, titanium dioxide exposure from consumption of foods and medicines has been linked to Crohn’s disease.

Other diseases linked to exposure to nanoparticles include cancer, dementia, autoimmune conditions, eczema, asthma, and autism.

Plus, here’s an infuriating fact:

While the use of titanium dioxide nanoparticles has soared over the last decade, only a limited number of products actually list them as ingredients.

In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that manufacturers can use up to 1 percent food-grade titanium dioxide – without declaring it on labels.

Study says E171 triggers inflammation, cancer, and IBD

In a study conducted at the University of Sydney and published in Frontiers in Nutrition, researchers found that consumption of food containing E171 affects the trillions of bacteria that constitute the gut microbiome (the community of microbes that plays an indispensable role in immune health).

This interference, noted the team, could potentially set the stage for inflammation, cancer, and intestinal disease.

Although E171 didn’t change the composition of the bacteria, it affected their activity, promoting the growth of harmful biofilms (layers of adhesive, difficult-to-dislodge bacteria).

The gut microbiome has a powerful impact on physical and emotional health

Research has shown that the balance between “friendly” and pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria can affect immunity, brain health, and even emotional well-being.

And let’s not forget that 70 – 80 percent of the immune system is in the gut.

In addition, the microbiome is vital in breaking down and absorbing nutrients from food and also assists with the production of neurotransmitters, the brain’s “chemical messengers.”

Experts say that disturbances in the proper balance of gut bacteria – a state also known as dysbiosis – are associated with Parkinson’s disease, IBD, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

E171 can threaten brain health

Studies have shown that E171 may affect more than just the gut microbiome.  Titanium dioxide nanoparticles have been shown to have damaging effects on the survival and function of brain cells.

Specifically, nanoparticles were found to harm astrocyte cells, which regulate the neurotransmitters – such as serotonin and dopamine – needed for stable mood, proper digestion, and restful sleep.

In one study, researchers found that astrocytes that were not killed outright were damaged in such a way that they became unable to absorb the neurotransmitter glutamate.  This led to accumulation outside the cell – a phenomenon implicated in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

How do you avoid these ubiquitous, tiny particles?

While not all titanium dioxide used in food and medicine is in the form of ultramicroscopic nanoparticles, much of it is.  So, avoiding processed foods is your first line of defense in minimizing exposure.

It’s ironic that the very substances used to create clean-looking, snowy-white products can cause such an array of toxic effects.  Clearly, titanium dioxide nanoparticles are “bad news” – in a very small package.

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