Dental Tribune Europe

Food additive used in toothpaste and chewing gum may have negative impact on health

SYDNEY, Australia: Nanoparticles of the common food additive titanium dioxide (E171), which is found in more than 900 food products, including chewing gum, as well as in some medicines and toothpastes, may have a negative impact on human health, according to a recent study. The results of the study have prompted experts to call for better regulations and more discussion around the topic of food additives.

Conducted by researchers from the University of Sydney, the study showed that E171 has an impact on gut microbiota and impairs some of its functions. This could cause inflammatory bowel diseases or colorectal cancer. Co-lead author Dr Wojciech Chrzanowski,  an associate professor at the University of Sydney Nano Institute, said: “There is increasing evidence that continuous exposure to nanoparticles has an impact on gut microbiota composition, and since gut microbiota is a gatekeeper of our health, any changes to its function have an influence on overall health.”

In 2017, French environmental association Agir pour l’Environnement studied the composition of 408 toothpastes and found E171 in 271 dental pastes, 25 bio-toothpastes and 29 toothpastes for children. Now, after ANSES, the French agency for food, environmental and occupational health and safety, released an analysis of 25 new studies on E171’s toxicity, concluding there was a lack of scientific data on its harmfulness but recommending the use of known alternatives, the French government plans to ban the use of the additive altogether from 2020.

According to the authors of the Australian study, increasing rates of dementia, autoimmune diseases, cancer metastasis, eczema, asthma and autism are among a growing list of diseases that have been linked to soaring exposure to E171 nanoparticles. Speaking about the results and what it means for the Australian government, the researchers said that E171 consumption should be better regulated by food authorities.

The study, titled “Impact of the food additive titanium dioxide (E171) on gut microbiota–host interaction ”, was published on 14 May 2019 in Frontiers in Nutrition.

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