Tag Archives: carcinogen

Food Dyes Pose Serious Risk to Children and Adults

All of these foods contain artificial food dyes

Food dyes are an interesting subject.  Health groups have been calling for their removal from the market for years because of links to allergies, hyperactivity in children and cancer.  The food industry uses them for one sole purpose – to make food look more appealing.  That’s it.  We’re not even talking about flavor enhancers here (which have their own set of problems). Food dyes don’t make food taste better and have no nutritional value to them whatsoever.  They are nothing more than chemicals used to make us think our food is going to taste better.

Now the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is calling for the removal of several of these dyes.  They say the three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens.  They also say that another dye, Red 3, has been known by the government for years to be a carcinogen yet it remains in our food supply.

Let’s take a look at some things that might open your eyes:

  • Every year about 15 million pounds of eight synthetic dyes end up in our food.
  • Per capita consumption of dyes has increased five-fold since 1955.
  • Children consume more dye per unit of body weight than adults and they are much more susceptible to their effects.
  • The FDA did not consider the risk to children when making their ‘acceptable level’ guidelines.
  • Most safety studies conducted on dyes were conducted or commissioned by food dye manufacturers.
  • Most of these studies lasted less than two years so long term affects could not be assessed.
  • The amount of artificial chemical allowed in any given dye is based on usage from 1990 and usage has increased by 50% since then.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is claiming that the FDA is not upholding the law for the following reasons:

  • Red 3 and Citrus Red 2 should be banned under the Delaney amendment, because they caused cancer in rats (some uses were banned in 1990), as should Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, which are tainted with cancer-causing contaminants.
  • Evidence suggests, though does not prove, that Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 40, and Yellow 6 cause cancer in animals. There certainly is not “convincing evidence” of safety.
  • Dyed foods should be considered adulterated under the law, because the dyes make a food “appear better or of greater value than it is”—typically by masking the absence of fruit, vegetable, or other more costly ingredient.

Click here for a summary of studies on food dyes

There are 9 dyes currently approved for use in the United States.  Many previous dyes have been banned because they have caused adverse affects in laboratory animals.  In fact, the British government had asked manufactures, as of last December 31st,  to completely phase out use of dyes and the European Union is requiring that every food containing dye come with warnings.  Below is a summary of each dye and its potential problems.  This list is from the CSPI.

  • Blue 1 was not found to be toxic in key rat and mouse studies, but an unpublished study suggested the possibility that Blue 1 caused kidney tumors in mice, and a preliminary in vitro study raised questions about possible effects on nerve cells. Blue 1 may not cause cancer, but confirmatory studies should be conducted. The dye can cause hypersensitivity reactions.
  • Blue 2 cannot be considered safe given the statistically significant incidence of tumors, particularly brain gliomas, in male rats. It should not be used in foods.
  • Citrus Red 2, which is permitted only for coloring the skins of oranges not used for processing, is toxic to rodents at modest levels and caused tumors of the urinary bladder and possibly other organs. The dye poses minimal human risk, because it is only used at minuscule levels and only on orange peels, but it still has no place in the food supply.
  • Green 3 caused significant increases in bladder and testes tumors in male rats. Though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it safe, this little-used dye must remain suspect until further testing is conducted.
  • Orange B is approved for use only in sausage casings, but has not been used for many years. Limited industry testing did not reveal any problems.
  • Red 3 was recognized in 1990 by the FDA as a thyroid carcinogen in animals and is banned in cosmetics and externally applied drugs. All uses of Red 3 lakes (combinations of dyes and salts that are insoluble and used in low-moisture foods) are also banned. However, the FDA still permits Red 3 in ingested drugs and foods, with about 200,000 pounds of the dye being used annually. The FDA needs to revoke that approval.
  • Red 40, the most-widely used dye, may accelerate the appearance of immune-system tumors in mice. The dye causes hypersensitivity (allergy-like) reactions in a small number of consumers and might trigger hyperactivity in children. Considering the safety questions and its non-essentiality, Red 40 should be excluded from foods unless and until new tests clearly demonstrate its safety.
  • Yellow 5 was not carcinogenic in rats, but was not adequately tested in mice. It may be contaminated with several cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, Yellow 5 causes sometimes-severe hypersensitivity reactions in a small number of people and might trigger hyperactivity and other behavioral effects in children. Posing some risks, while serving no nutritional or safety purpose, Yellow 5 should not be allowed in foods.
  • Yellow 6 caused adrenal tumors in animals, though that is disputed by industry and the FDA. It may be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals and occasionally causes severe hypersensitivity reactions. Yellow 6 adds an unnecessary risk to the food supply.

I always encourage my patients to eat as naturally as possible and this is one of the main reasons.  These chemicals, basically derived from petroleum, are clearly not as safe as the food manufacturers would like you to think they are.  While not all of these dyes pose a serious threat, why risk it?  You can bet that if you buy a packaged food and it is brilliantly colored, it has one or more of these dyes in it.  That is also problematic as these dyes have been studied alone and not it combination with one another.  No one knows what the safety of these dyes are when consumed with other dyes.

Natural Alternatives

There are options for food coloring out there.  Many natural colors exist that work just as well as the synthetics and are known to be safe.  I’ve listed some below for your reference.

  • Caramel coloring made from caramelized sugar, used in cola products and also in cosmetics.
  • Annatto a reddish-orange dye made from the seed of the Achiote. (Some are allergic to this one.)
  • A green dye made from chlorella algae.
  • Cochineal a red dye derived from the cochineal insect, Dactylopius coccus.
  • Betanin extracted from beets.
  • Turmeric (curcuminoids)
  • Saffron (carotenoids)
  • Paprika
  • Elderberry juice
  • Pandan Pandanus amaryllifolius, a green food coloring
  • Butterfly pea Clitoria ternatea, a blue food dye

I see many children in my practice that struggle with attention and hyperactivity.  Those symptoms are often alleviated by removing all artificial sweeteners and dyes from the diets of these children.  In terms of overall health, stick on the edges of the grocery store.  Skip the middle aisle where all of the processed junk is kept.  That is what will contain the dyes you want to avoid.

2 Comments

Filed under Diet, Public Health

Toxins causing ‘grievous harm,’ cancer panel says

Widespread exposure to environmental toxins poses a serious threat to Americans, causing “grievous harm” that government agencies have not adequately addressed, according to a strongly worded report released today by the President’s Cancer Panel, a body of experts that reports directly to President Obama.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 6% of cancer deaths — nearly 34,000 a year — are caused by environmental pollutants.

That number could be much higher, the new report says. Although the report doesn’t give a figure, it says the government has “grossly underestimated” the problem because of a lack of research. Much of the suffering faced by people diagnosed with toxin-related cancer “could have been prevented through appropriate national action,” according to the 240-page report.

The report urges the Obama administration to act, even if the evidence linking cancer and chemicals isn’t definitive. Nearly 80,000 chemicals are used in the country today, many of which are unstudied and “largely unregulated,” the report says.

Children appear to be especially vulnerable, the report says.

The report was produced by cancer specialists LaSalle Lefall and Margaret Kripke, both of whom were appointed by President Bush and who heard from dozens of experts over the past two years. The panel’s third position is vacant.

Reaction to the report was mixed.

Jeanne Rizzo, president of the Breast Cancer Fund, an environmental advocacy group, said the report was “a watershed that could transform federal policy not just on cancer, but on chemicals.”

The American Cancer Society’s Michael Thun called the report “unbalanced” because he said it implied pollution is a major cause of cancer and dismissed prevention efforts. The report “restates hypotheses as if they were established facts,” Thun said in a statement. “It reflects one side of a scientific debate that has continued for almost 30 years.” Thun said he hopes the report won’t confuse Americans about the clearest ways to prevent cancer, such as through healthier living. The American Cancer Society says smoking alone causes far more deaths — more than 168,000 every year.

via Toxins causing ‘grievous harm,’ cancer panel says – USATODAY.com.

Dr. Court’s Comments

I think it’s great that this kind of information is finally starting to get out there.  I routinely recommend that my patients do a bio-detoxification for the reasons mentioned above.

Most of the chemicals that are in our lives have not been studied and no one knows the long term effects of these things.  For every chemical that may be harmless there are likely more that cause cancer.

And what about the chemicals that don’t cause cancer?  What about the chemicals that just affect physiology?  Some cause chronic pain, sensory perception issues, trouble breathing, head aches, joint pain, auto-immune disorders and the list goes on and on.

The fact that these chemicals are all around us makes them very dangerous.  You can’t get away from them.  They get into our soil, water and air.  You eat them, you drink them, and you breath them in.  Over time, some of these chemicals are dangerous and can cause cancer in susceptible individuals.  The problem is there is no way to tell who those susceptible people are.

Also, think about the list of people who don’t get cancer but are destined for a lifetime of suffering with some mystery condition that cannot be figured out because of some chemical exposure.  I routinely see patients who have these mystery conditions and I can almost always attribute it to some environmental exposure.

So the questions is, what can you do to protect yourself?  I always recommend that my patients do a bio-detoxification at least once per year.  Through that program you are able to cleanse you body of many built up toxins.  If you do this regularly, you have less of a chance of these chemicals adversely affecting you.

Secondly, eat a healthy diet.  These chemicals cause cancer by causing free radical damage that alters your DNA.  Free radicals are countered by a diet high in antioxidants.  A diet full of healthy protein, fruits, veggies and nuts will supply you with ample free radical scavenging antioxidants.

Thirdly, take supplements to boost your immunity and antioxidant capacity.  Things like vitamin D, vitamin C, curcumin, and green tea extract have known protective benefits.

Lastly, avoid using necessary chemicals in your life.  Here in the Northeast spring is in full bloom, but that also means the bugs and weeds are out too.  Instead of using the chemical weed and bug killers that are available, use a natural product.  I’ve used both natural weed and bug killer in the past two weeks and they worked great.  The ingredients were nothing more than peppermint, rosemary and thyme oil with a small amount of alcohol in it.

It’s no secret that we are surrounded by chemicals in our daily lives.  We start by getting up in the morning and driving to work in a car fueled by chemicals, printing our daily reports with chemicals and end our day by sitting down and watching our new fancy TVs that are filled with chemicals.  To assume they have no effect is naive.  They not only can cause cancer but also cause other long term health issues.  Do what you can to protect yourself and your family.

1 Comment

Filed under Environmental Health

Cancer – Brought to you by CVS and GNC (among others)

A recent lawsuit contends that nutrition companies are selling fish oil that is contaminated with PCBs.  PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are carcinogens that were banned in the 1970’s because they caused significant health problems. The lawsuit filed complaints against CVS, GNC, Omega Protein and Rite Aid among others.

PCBs leak into ground water and were disposed of into the ocean causing many problems in the 1970s.  The problem became known when emaciated seabird corpses with very high PCB body burdens washed up on beaches.  Despite the fact that these chemicals were banned in the 70s we continue to deal with the after effects.  This is clear because the fish that are harvested today to make fish oil have high levels of PCBs.  The companies that make fish oil should be careful to purify the oil they use.  This is precisely the problem with getting your supplements ‘over-the-counter.’  You can never be sure of the quality.

I recommend supplements to all of my patients.  I take them myself, and fish oil is something that I recommend for everyone because of its huge benefits.  People ask me all the time if they can just pick up these supplements that I am recommending at Walmart or CVS because it’s ‘cheaper.’  Cheaper?  Yes, but you get what you pay for.  The companies that sell these over the counter at inexpensive prices are doing the public a great disservice.  Would you buy your medications at a discount store because they were cheaper if you knew they were not as effective or worse yet, dangerous?  Probably not, but people don’t think that way about nutritional supplements.  Here is a perfect example:

The fish oil above is a 300 count bottle for $7.99.  That’s right just 7 dollars and 99 cents.  This particular brand of fish oil is for sale at BJ’s Wholesale club.  BJ’s has over 180 locations up and down the East Coast so they sell plenty of it, I’m sure.  Reputable nutrition companies sell fish oil for much more than that.  Depending on the potency you should expect to pay between $30-$40 for a 120 count of fish oil, not $8 for 300!

Supplements are thought of as harmless because they are natural.  This is not always the case.  Anything that has the power to heal and help has the power to be harmful.  I have seen miracles with many supplement programs so their effectiveness is not in doubt.  That being said, we have to consider they may pose problems for some people and if not made with the most stringent testing policies in mind they might be down right dangerous.

Reputable companies test and test and test their products before they are sent out.  They test the raw ingredient when it comes into their manufacturing plant and then they test the final product for safety and efficacy.  They can also provide you with a certificate of analysis on each batch that has been made.  If you are interested in the companies I work with you can visit my website and in my “Links” section are links to the companies I use.

The nutrition industry gets a bad reputation because companies like CVS, Rite Aid and GNC want to make products that people want but they don’t want to invest the money to make them effective and safe products.  All they want is to make them cheap.  When it comes to your health you don’t want cheap.  If you needed medication for a dangerous heart condition would you get it from the lowest bidder? You shouldn’t trust your health to nutrition companies who are only trying to make a quick buck.

If you have health issues that you are concerned about and you would like to add supplements into your program (always a good idea in my book) don’t take on the prospect yourself and buy over the counter.  See a professional who has a background in nutrition and will have access to higher potency supplements that are much safer.  Remember, this lawsuit filed did not test all supplement companies and actually focused on some of the cheapest ones around. You should buy your supplements from a reputable nutrition company, but this will probably require you to see a doctor who is versed in nutrition.  Your health is worth it, isn’t it?

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized