Science: This Popular Food Additive Could Be Causing Cancer


Have you eaten titanium dioxide today? You likely have. It’s a fairly common food additive, generally used to make whites brighter on food. Unfortunately, though, you might want to set aside the powdered donuts and alfredo sauce, as a new study finds that it’s causing cancer in rats. And unlike bacon or booze, this study is pretty clear about what’s going on.

Researchers at France’s National Institute of Agricultural Research fed rats food-grade titanium dioxide at roughly ten parts per million, while the FDA allows titanium dioxide to be up to 1% of the food we eat, by weight.

The results found that even a small amount of the stuff irritated the intestines of the rats and set the stage for precancerous lesions. In other words, eating a small amount of this stuff every day potentially raises your risk of colon cancer, if you’re a rat. Some food scientists are already calling for the FDA to ban it, especially since you can find this stuff in medication, to boot.

From Food Beast’s article, which was written by Constantine Spyrou, one such scientist:

Not only does titanium dioxide now pose a serious carcinogenic toxicity, but it also poses a serious nutritional toxicity. These studies make it clear that titanium dioxide is something that needs to get OUT of our food, ASAP. At the very least, the FDA needs to reevaluate the safety of titanium dioxide following this new research.

For now, if you see titanium dioxide on a food product, I would highly recommend avoiding it for the near future until the FDA sorts this out (if the FDA chooses to, that is). If you’re a food company that’s using titanium dioxide, I would remove it from your products to ensure that carcinogens are removed from your food and consumers feel safe about eating your food products.

There are, of course, some caveats, here. The first is that if you’re not a rat, this isn’t a hard and fast rule just yet. Secondly, it’s pretty hard to get colon cancer in the first place and age is a major factor in getting such a cancer. That said, if you’ve got a family history of this particular cancer, or just are worried about your butt’s health, forgoing things like gum, mints, and powdered donuts probably isn’t going to kill you either way, until new research comes in. So check the label, and act accordingly.

(Via FoodBeast)