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Common food additive may harm gut health: Study

Press Trust of India  |  Melbourne 

A common additive used in many items such as and may have a substantial and harmful influence on human gut health, a study has found.

Published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, the study investigated the impacts of additive E171 (titanium dioxide nanoparticles) which is used in high quantities in and some medicines as a whitening agent.

Found in more than 900 products such as and mayonnaise, E171 is consumed in high proportion everyday by the general population, said researchers from the in

The study in mice found that consumption of food containing E171 has an impact on the gut microbiota -- the trillions of bacteria that inhabit the gut -- which could trigger such as and

"The aim of this research is to stimulate discussions on new standards and regulations to ensure safe use of nanoparticles in and globally," said Wojciech Chrzanowski, from the

While nanoparticles have been commonly used in medicines, foods, clothing, and other applications, the possible impacts of nanoparticles, especially their long term effects, are still poorly understood.

Titanium dioxide consumption has considerably increased in the last decade and has already been linked to several medical conditions, and although it is approved in food, there is insufficient evidence about its safety.

Increasing rates of dementia, auto-immune diseases, cancer metastasis, eczema, asthma, and are among a growing list of that have been linked to soaring exposure to nanoparticles.

"It is well established that dietary composition has an impact on physiology and health, yet the role of is poorly understood," said Chrzanowski.

"There is increasing evidence that continuous exposure to nanoparticles has an impact on gut microbiota composition, and since gut microbiota is a gate keeper of our health, any changes to its function have an influence on overall health," Chrzanowski said.

"This study presents pivotal evidence that consumption of food containing E171 (titanium dioxide) affects gut microbiota as well as in the gut, which could lead to diseases such as and colorectal cancer," he said.

"Our research showed that titanium dioxide interacts with bacteria in the gut and impairs some of their functions which may result in the development of diseases," said from the

"We are saying that its consumption should be better regulated by food authorities," Macia said.

"This study investigated effects of titanium dioxide on gut in mice and found that titanium dioxide did not change the composition of gut microbiota, but instead it affected bacteria activity and promoted their growth in a form of undesired biofilm.

"Biofilms are bacteria that stick together and the formation of biofilm has been reported in diseases such as colorectal cancer," said Macia.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 14 2019. 12:51 IST