Another Study Links Commonly Used Additive in Processed Food to Bowel Cancer, Other Serious Illnesses

We are finally getting some replication study results in on the potential dangers of food additives like emulsifiers–especially ‘polysorbate 80’ and ‘carboxymethylcellulose’.  Like previous studies, this most recent study linked the food chemical to bowel cancer and metabolic syndrome, which is a risk factor for certain chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease, and inflammation (those in turn have been connected to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a condition which can trigger tumors to grow).

Emulsifiers ‘polysorbate 80’ and ‘carboxymethylcellulose’ are commonplace in U.S. processed food items and can be found in products such as dietetic meals and drinks and other special dietary foods, chocolate syrup, ice cream, nondairy creamers, fruit sherbet, frozen desserts, pickles and pickle products, canned spiced green beans, yeast, poultry (present during the preparation process), whipped toppings, gelatin desserts and dessert mixes, chewing gum,  and many other items. (To learn more about the scientific findings and where these additives can be found see the “Food Additives to Avoid Listing” [FATAL] in our book.)

For those consumers who want to avoid emulsifiers and other chemicals of concern–and the accompanying risk factors–it is recommended to prepare your own meals and snacks using fresh, whole ingredients (organic wherever possible) and to avoid highly processed foods altogether.  At the very least, read the ingredients labels on all food items before tossing them into your grocery cart.


This Common Processed Food Ingredient Causes Cancer in Mice

Researchers report in the journal Cancer Research that emulsifiers create the ideal conditions for triggering colon cancer in mice.

Emulsifiers are chemicals—in some cases detergents, actually—added to blend oily and water-based ingredients in processed foods and to keep them consistently mixed so they don’t separate. Processed foods often contain several of them; food regulations limit the amount of each emulsifier present in a particular food product to 1% to 2%, but they don’t restrict the number of emulsifiers allowed…

After three months of feeding some animals two common ones—polysorbate 80 and carboxymethylcellulose—in their water, researchers found that animals who consumed emulsifiers showed changes in their gut microbes that were consistent with promoting tumor growth. Using a theoretical model for conditions that promote colon cancer, researchers found that the higher levels of inflammation created by the microbial changes form the perfect cancer-friendly environment. Future studies must be conducted to see if and how these findings relate to humans.


Common food additives ‘linked’ to bowel cancer