Are Food Additives Linked to Colon Cancer?

Of the cancers that affect men and women in the United States, colorectal cancer is the third most common. According to the most recent colorectal cancer statistics, over 139,992 Americans were diagnosed with the disease in 2014. 

Research suggests that the prevalence of this common cancer may be due in part to emulsifiers. Emulsifiers are additives that are used in most processed foods to improve texture and extend shelf life. They are present in many of the foods we eat fairly regularly.

The Study: Emulsifiers & Intestinal Inflammation

Scientists have discovered that changes in the intestinal microbia could be a significant risk-factor for colorectal cancer. These microbial changes are also a key factor in Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease. Because of this, research was done to discover the impact of emulsifiers on the microbial composition in the digestive tract. 

Recently, a study was performed on mice using two of the most common emulsifiers, Polysorbate 80 and carboxymethyl cellulose. Results showed that mice who consumed these chemicals showed dramatic changes in their gut microbia which led to a great deal of inflammation. Not only did the emulsifiers create a pro-inflammatory environment, it also changed the balance between cell creation and cell death. Disrupting this natural process enhances tumor development.

Should You Cut Out All Processed Food?

Although the test on mice showed a correlation between emulsifiers and a greater risk of colorectal cancer, these studies have not been performed on people. The possibility exists that these effects may not be seen in humans.

With that said, it is always a good idea to eat as many natural, non-processed foods as possible. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean meats will improve your colorectal and overall health.

Factors That Increase Risk of Colorectal Cancer

While studies can’t yet confirm emulsifiers role in colorectal cancer, there are several preventable factors that are proven to increase risk:

Schedule Your Colonoscopy

The best tool you have to preventing colorectal cancer is early detection. Pre-cancerous tumors and early stages of colorectal cancer are found during routine colonoscopies. 

To learn more about Colectomies, call Surgical Consultants of Northern Virgina at (571) 512-5300.


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