Most people assume that a natural flavor describes something like strawberries, garlic or chili pepper used to naturally season food. In reality, most natural flavors are created in a laboratory, just like artificial flavors. The only difference is that natural flavors must be sourced from a natural product, whereas artificial flavors do not. According to the FDA Code of Federal Regulations:
"The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis. These contain the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."
As you can see, in the end, natural flavors often bear little resemblance to the natural product from which they came. Many times, the resulting chemical may even be identical to those created synthetically to make artificial flavors, yet it will likely be more expensive. Today reported:
"Both artificial and natural flavors are made by 'flavorists' in a laboratory by blending either 'natural' chemicals or 'synthetic' chemicals to create flavorings. Gary Reineccius, a professor in the department of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota, says that the distinction between natural and artificial flavorings is based on the source of these often identical chemicals. In fact, he says, 'artificial flavorings are simpler in composition and potentially safer because only safety-tested components are utilized. "Another difference,' says Reineccius, 'is cost. The search for natural sources of chemicals often requires that a manufacturer go to great lengths to obtain a given chemical… This natural chemical is identical to the version made in an organic chemist's laboratory, yet it is much more expensive than the synthetic alternative.' End result: We shoppers wind up paying the price for natural flavorings, and according to Reineccius, these are in fact no better in quality, nor are they safer, than their cost-effective artificial counterparts."
The first published report of an adverse reaction to MSG referred to a natural appeared in 1968
Kwok, R.H.M. The Chinese restaurant syndrome. Letter to the editor. N Engl J Med 278: 796, 1968
The first evidence that MSG caused brain damage in the form of retinal degeneration was published in 1957
Lucas, D.R. and Newhouse, J. P. The toxic effect of sodium-L-glutamate on the inner layers of the retina. AMA Arch Ophthalmol 58: 193-201, 1957
The first published report of brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances with monosodium glutamate was published in 1969M
Olney, J.W. Brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances with monosodium glutamate. Science. 164: 719-721, 1969
These three chemicals are hormone-disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing agents — research indicates a strong link to liver and kidney cancer. They are commonly found in shampoos, soaps, bubble baths and facial cleansers.
Banned by the European Union in 2003, phthalates and parabens are a group of chemicals commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. They keep hairsprays sticky and bacteria and fungus out of things like nail polish and perfume. Both have demonstrated themselves to be carcinogenic and particularly linked to breast cancer.
Most FD&C color pigments are made from coal tar and studies show that almost all of them are carcinogenic. Many of these pigments cause skin sensitivity and irritation, or even oxygen depletion in the blood. FD&C Red No. 4 is no longer available for use in foods because of a known threat to the adrenal glands and urinary bladder.
"Fragrance" is a euphemism for nearly 4,000 different ingredients. Most "fragrances" are synthetic and are either cancer-causing or otherwise toxic. Exposure to fragrances has been shown to affect the central nervous system. "Fragrances" are found in most shampoos, deodorants, sunscreens, skincare and body care products.
These are formaldehyde donors, which means that they are derivatives of the formaldehyde, which is what scientists and morticians use to preserve corpses and body parts. Remember dissecting frogs in school? These chemicals are linked to allergies, chest pain, chronic fatigue, depression, dizziness, ear infections, headaches, joint pain, loss of sleep, and can trigger asthma. They can weaken the immune system, and cause cancer. Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin are used in skin, body and hair products, antiperspirants and nail polish.
Quarternium-15 commonly causes allergic reactions and dermatitis, and breaks down into formaldehyde. Quarternium-15 is used as a preservative in many skin and hair care products.
Isopropyl Alcohol is used in hair color rinses, body rubs, hand lotion and aftershave lotions as well as in your car's antifreeze and shellac! Scientists believe that it has the ability to destroy intestinal flora, leaving the body's major organs open to parasites, and thus to cancers. Beyond attacking the intestinal flora, isopropyl alcohol can cause headaches, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, and coma.
Mineral oil is a petroleum derivative that coats the skin like saran wrap, which prevents the skin from breathing, absorbing and excreting. It also slows the skin's natural cell development, causing the skin to age prematurely. Note that baby oil is 100% mineral oil - and 100% bad for your baby's sensitive skin.
PEG's are most commonly used in spray-on oven cleaners and in many hair and skin products. PEG's main fuctions are to dissolve oil and grease. Thus, on the body, they take the protective oils off the skin and hair, making them more vulnerable to other toxins.
Propylene Glycol is the active ingredient in antifreeze. It is also used in makeup, toothpaste and deodorant. Stick deodorants have a higher concentration of PG than is allowed for most industrial use! Direct contact can cause brain, liver and kidney abnormalities. The EPA requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles when working with it. And yet, the FDA says we can put it in our mouths!
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are the most toxic ingredients on this list. When used in combination with other chemicals, they can form nitrosamines, a deadly class of carcinogen. They are used to clean engines, garage floors and at car washes. AND still the most popular ingredients for makeup, shampoo and conditioner and toothpaste. Exposure causes eye damage, depression, diarrhea and many other ailments.
A synthetic antibacterial ingredient that has been compared to Agent Orange. The Environmental Protection Agency registers it as a pesticide, highly toxic to any living organism. It is also classified as a chlorophenol. In other words, it is in a cancer causing chemical class. Triclosan disrupts hormones, can affect sexual function and fertility and may foster birth defects. Triclosan has been linked to paralysis, suppression of the immune system, brain hemorrhages, and heart problems. It is widely used in antibacterial cleansers, toothpaste, and household products.
Talc has been linked to ovarian and testicular cancer. It can be found in makeup, baby and adult powders and foundation.
Petrolatum is a petrochemical that contains two well-known carcinogens: Benzo-A-Pyrene and Benzo-B-Fluroanthene. As you might imagine from a petroleum derivative, petrolatum prevents the skin breathing and excreting.
Phthalates are chemical compounds with many toxicological traits. According to trial statistics from the Center for Disease Control, an approximate 5% of women of reproductive age from the general population are polluted with 75% or more of the level of just one of the phthalates, DBP, that may begin to damage normal reproductive tract development in their baby boys. Phthalates show numerous toxic effects in animal studies following chronic exposure or even after short-term exposures in particularly vulnerable organisms. These consequences include: damage to the liver, kidney, heart, and lungs as well as adverse effects on reproduction, development, and blood clotting.
Center for Disease Control
In August of 2000, scientists at the Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico, discovered a link between exposure to DEHP and premature breast development in young girls.
Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico - 2000
In 2003, a study was done by scientists from the Centers for Disease Control, that stated, "men with higher phthalate levels have reduced sperm counts, lower sperm motility and more deformed sperm."
Centers for Disease Control, Harvard School of Public Health, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School 2003
The personal care industry has been hijacked by misleading messages and outright false advertising. More concerning is that companies are putting their profits before the health and well-being of their consumers. While the FDA is slow to react and enforce regulation that could ban harmful ingredients, consumers continue to use their "trusted" products.
Deodorants and Antiperspirants are a hot topic. Spread across the internet is misinformation and confusion, and if there is one thing that requires clarity it is your health. Mainly at stake is the frightening warning that toxic chemicals in deodorants and antiperspirants can cause cancer, Alzheimer's and allergic reactions.
Aluminum is one of the main concerns. But it is not the only concern. Most conventional deodorants contain a slew of toxic chemicals, such as aluminum chlorohydrate, parabens, propylene glycol, triclosan, TEA, DEA, FD&C colors, and Talc, among others.
Unfortunately, the clarity we desperately need is not so easy to come by. Numerous studies have been conducted to examine the effects or deodorant and antiperspirant on the body, and the findings show supporting data. A comprehensive review of the main studies is located below.
The following is a detailed list and explanation of dangerous chemicals commonly found in non-natural deodorants and antiperspirants:
Aluminum-based compounds are the active ingredients in antiperspirants. They block the sweat glands to keep sweat from getting to the skin's surface. Research has shown that these aluminum compounds may be absorbed by the skin and cause changes in estrogen receptors of breast cells. Because estrogen can promote the growth of both cancer and non-cancer breast cells, some scientists have suggested that using the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants may be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer.
Studies have looked at aluminum content of breast tissue, and aluminum absorption through the skin, and a clear link to breast cancer has been made. Researchers continue to look at this possible breast cancer risk factor and more studies are needed. (American Cancer Society)
Parabens in their many forms (methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, or butylparaben) are a class of artificial preservatives widely used in cosmetics and personal care products that are being investigated for their possible role in breast cancer. Parabens mimic the activity of estrogen in the body. Since estrogen promotes the growth of breast cancer cells and a woman is eight times more likely to develop breast cancer in the part of the breast closest to the underarm, scientists are studying the connection.
Propylene glycol—a humectant which means it keeps substances from drying out, and it was originally developed as an anti-freeze, but is now included in some deodorants and antiperspirants. It is a neurotoxin known to cause contact dermatitis, kidney damage, and liver damage. In propylene glycol's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), published by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, workers are urged to avoid skin contact with the toxic chemical as it may cause eye and skin irritation, gastrointestinal irritation and discomfort, nausea, headache, vomiting, and central nervous depression.
TEA and DEA (triethanolamine and diethanolamine) adjust the pH, and used with many fatty acids to convert acid to salt (stearate), which then becomes the base for a cleanser. They both could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time where DEA can cause liver and kidney damage and TEA can cause allergic reactions. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects.
Triclosan is an artificial antimicrobial chemical used to kill bacteria on the skin and other surfaces. Triclosan is a skin irritant and may cause contact dermatitis. Recent studies suggest this chemical may disrupt thyroid function and other critical hormone systems. The American Medical Association recommends that triclosan and other "antibacterial" products not be used in the home, as they may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics that can allow resistant strains to flourish.
FD&C colors are artificial/synthetic colors approved by the FDA for food, drug and cosmetics. Some are made from coal tar derivatives and have known to be carcinogenic; they also often cause allergic skin reactions.
Talc, hydrous magnesium silicate, is a soft mineral used in personal care products as an absorbent and color additive. It is classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer if it contains asbestiform fibers. The quantity of asbestiform fibers in cosmetic grade talc is unregulated. If talc is listed on the label, there is no way of knowing whether or not it contains asbestiform fibers.
Numerous studies have been conducted examining the causation between deodorants and antiperspirants and breast cancer, Alzheimer's and allergic reactions. The analysis of all major studies shows supporting data. Most findings support the hypothesis that there is a direct correlation between deodorant and antiperspirant use and breast cancer. Regardless, whether there is a definitive answer or not, supporting research and results are enough reason for concern, as even the idea of using a carcinogenic product is frightening.
European Journal of Cancer Prevention, interviewed 437 women with breast cancer about their past and present use of deodorants. The study reported that women who applied deodorant at least twice a week and shaved their armpits at least three times a week developed breast cancer almost 15 years younger than women who did neither.
European Journal of Cancer Prevention -2003
Another study published in 2004 in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, looked at the synthetic chemicals, parabens. The researchers looked at 20 human breast tumor samples and found that parabens were present in 18 of them. They concluded that these results suggested that parabens in deodorants could be absorbed through the skin and increase the risk of breast cancer.
Journal of Applied Toxicology - 2004
Studies are now showing that continuous exposure to toxic chemicals in personal hygiene products, such as antiperspirants, may be related to allergic reactions, Alzheimer's, and even breast cancer in women. This may come as no surprise considering the fact that most deodorants are made up of aluminum chlorohydrate, as well as up to 20 other toxic chemicals.
Exley C, Charles LM, Barr L, Martin C, Polwart A, Darbre PD. Aluminum in human breast tissue. J Inorg Biochem. 2007 Sep;101(9):1344-6. Epub 2007 Jun 12.
Similarly, a recent study from Reading University found that cancerous tumors are most likely to appear in the parts of the female breast which is closest to where antiperspirants are applied. Of the women studied, it was found that cysts in the armpit area of the breast had 25x more aluminum than the common amount found in blood.
Darbre PD. Aluminium, antiperspirants and breast cancer. J Inorg Biochem. 2005 Sep;99(9):1912-9./
Studies show that aluminum exposure is not only related to increased chances of developing breast cancer, but also other diseases such as Alzheimer's. Studies on the brains of individuals with Alzheimer's disease found that their brain tissue often held high amounts of the aluminum toxins.
Ferreira PC, Piai Kde A, Takayanagui AM, Segura-Muñoz SI. Aluminum as a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. Rev Lat Am Enfermagem. 2008 Jan-Feb;16(1):151-7. Review.
Studies done by the U.S. Toxicology Program in 1997 found that hormone disruptors such as PropTEA and DEA, other normal ingredients found in deodorants, were reported to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) in animals
National Toxicology Program. Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Diethanolamine (CAS No. 111-42-2) in F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Dermal Studies). Department of Health and Human Services. 1999 July.
If it's in our food, it must be safe to eat, right? We can say that about countless ingredients that have been proven to be unsafe. Carrageenan is one of them.
How does this happen? How is it that a harmful ingredient is allowed into and in some cases thousands of food items? Just look at the FDA's recent ruling on trans fat. You'll find trans fats in processed foods including frozen meals, margarine, desserts, even movie popcorn. People have been eating trans fats for decades, and likely suffered health issues as a result. Now, the FDA has found that trans fats are no longer generally regarded as safe and the agency is taking measures to eliminate them from the food supply.
The artificial sweetener sucralose (Splenda) was thought to be safer than other artificial sweeteners, up until recently. But research has found it to be a high risk ingredient with links to diabetes and leukemia. Sucralose is now enough of a risk that it was downgraded by The Center for Science in the Public Interest from its "safe" category to "caution."
Similar arguments are made against the use of high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, aspartame and even foods that have been genetically modified. Research points to the detrimental health effects, and some countries strictly regulate or even ban the ingredients.
So what about carrageenan? Try purchasing a nondairy milk without it. Or yogurt. Or processed meats. It can show up virtually anywhere in the processed food chain, used to bind ingredients even organic ones. But is it safe?
Animal studies have repeatedly shown that food-grade carrageenan causes gastrointestinal inflammation and higher rates of intestinal lesions, ulcerations, and even malignant tumors.
Since 1969, dozens of studies of food-grade carrageenan have been published in peer reviewed academic journals. Results from these scientific experiments point to harmful effects from food grade carrageenan in the diet.
Studies from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s link food grade carrageenan to higher rates of digestive disease, including colon cancer, in laboratory animals.
In 2001, a review published in the official journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences questioned the safety of food grade carrageenan, based on an examination of the extant scientific literature.
The unique chemical structure of carrageenan triggers an innate immune response in the body, which recognizes it as a dangerous invader. This immune response leads to inflammation. For individuals who consume carrageenan on a regular or daily basis, the inflammation will be prolonged and constant, which is a serious health concern since prolonged inflammation is a precursor to more serious disease.
In fact, the medical community has long recognized that inflammation is associated with more than 100 human diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and arteriosclerosis. Inflammation is also linked to cancer.
"Carrageenan exposure clearly causes inflammation; the amount of carrageenan in food products is sufficient to cause inflammation; and degraded carrageenan and food grade carrageenan are both harmful," says Dr. Joanne Tobacman, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago. In other words, we simply don't know if any amount of carrageenan can be considered safe.
"The rising incidence and prevalence of ulcerative colitis across the globe is correlated with the increased consumption of processed foods, including products containing carrageenan," says Dr. Stephen Hanauer, MD, Chief, Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, and Joseph B. Kirsner, Professor of Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology, University of Chicago School of Medicine.
Many individuals experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms (ranging from mild "belly bloat," to irritable bowel syndrome, to severe inflammatory bowel disease) have noticed that eliminating carrageenan from their diets leads to profound improvements in their gastrointestinal health.
Dr. Andrew Weil says that since all forms of carrageenan can cause inflammation, he recommends "avoiding regular consumption" of it. "We know that chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and cancer.
Researchers continue to explore other ways in which carrageenan is harmful. Scientists have recently found that contact with carrageenan reduces the activity of certain beneficial enzymes in human cells. And a recent study exposing mice to carrageenan in drinking water showed impaired insulin action and profound glucose intolerance precursors to diabetes.
As far back as 1981, Dr. Raphael Marcus and Dr. James Watt of the Department of Pathology, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom noted that the safety of carrageenan must be "seriously reconsidered, and, in view of the long-term effects, caution must be applied in the continued use of carrageenan."
And what's worse is that issues may not be immediately apparent. But the absence of noticeable gastrointestinal symptoms does not signify that an individual is unaffected by carrageenan.
Research shows carrageenan predictably causes inflammation. Low-grade inflammation of the intestines may go unnoticed; nevertheless, chronic low-grade inflammation in the body is profoundly unhealthy. Scientists are increasingly concerned about the negative effects of low-grade inflammation on overall health, especially as it often leads to more serious disease down the road.
Although derived from a natural source, carrageenan appears to be particularly destructive to the digestive system, triggering an immune response similar to that your body has when invaded by pathogens like Salmonella. The result: Carrageenan predictably causes inflammation, which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding, the food ingredient irritates by activating an immune response that dials up inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and cancer. Previous studies showed a concerning connection between carrageenan and gastrointestinal cancer in lab animals. The concern over food-grade carrageenan isn't new. Beginning in the 1960s, researchers started linking the ingredient to gastrointestinal disease in lab animals, including ulcerative colitis, intestinal lesions, and colon cancer.
Joanne Tobacman, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Chicago., National Institutes of Health
Because of the acknowledged carcinogenic properties of degraded carrageenan in animal models and the cancer promoting effects of degraded carrageenan in experimental models, the widespread use of carrageenan in the Western diet should be reconsidered
Tobacman JK. Review of harmful gastrointestinal effects of carrageenan in animal experiments. Environmental Health Perspectives 2001;109(10):983-994.