Doctors are studying the effects of consuming emulsifiers
So-called emulsifiers are added to most processed foods, for example to extend their shelf life. Researchers have now found that such emulsifiers can lead to inflammation and even colon cancer.
The scientists from Georgia State University’s Institute for Biomedical Sciences discovered in their study that emulsifiers in processed foods can contribute to the development of colorectal cancer. Regular consumption of emulsifiers increases the development of tumors in mice. The doctors released a press release on the results of their study.
Living microorganisms in the gut play a role in the development of cancer
Colon cancer ranks fourth in the world for causes of cancer-related deaths, experts say. In 2012 alone, the disease was responsible for around 700,000 deaths. The researchers explain that the large and diverse population of microorganisms (intestinal flora) that live in the human intestine play a role in the development of colon cancer.
Changes in the intestinal flora can cause metabolic diseases and colon cancer
The intestinal flora also appears to be an important factor in the two most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Inflammatory bowel diseases of this type are known to promote the development of tumors in the intestine, the scientists explain. Weaker inflammations can also have negative consequences for health. These changes can affect the composition of the so-called intestinal flora and cause metabolic diseases and even colon cancer. The current results show that emulsifiers could be partly responsible for this association.
Altered intestinal flora is beneficial for the development of tumors
The incidence of colorectal cancer has increased significantly since the middle of the 20th century, says author Dr. Emilie Viennois from Georgia State University’s Institute for Biomedical Sciences. An essential feature of this disease is an altered intestinal flora. This creates advantageous conditions for the development of tumors.
Food emulsifiers promote bacterial translocation in epithelial cells
The dramatic increase in these diseases has occurred in the midst of constant human genetics, which speaks for a central role of an environmental factor, explains author Dr. Benoit Chassaing. Earlier studies suggested that inflammation in the intestine can be triggered by the consumption of emulsifiers and can change the composition of the intestinal flora. In addition, the addition of emulsifiers in food promotes bacterial translocation in epithelial cells, the experts explain. The emulsifiers appear to affect the intestinal flora in a way that promotes the development of colon cancer.
Doctors examine polysorbate 80 and carboxymethyl cellulose
In a test on mice, the team of scientists checked whether the intake of the frequently used emulsifiers polysorbate 80 and carboxymethyl cellulose could lead to the development of colon cancer. The doctors observed that these emulsifiers change the species composition of the intestinal flora drastically. This leads to more frequent inflammation and promotes the development of cancer.
Regular consumption of emulsifiers favors colon cancer
Using a well-established model of colorectal cancer, the researchers found that regular use of emulsifiers makes animals more susceptible to the development of colorectal tumors, the experts say. The negative effects of ingested emulsifiers were eliminated in mice without intestinal flora (germ-free mice), the authors explain. The transplantation of the intestinal flora from mice treated with emulsifiers to aseptic mice was already sufficient to transmit changes in intestinal epithelial cell homeostasis. This indicates a central role of the intestinal flora in the development of tumors, the doctors add. (as)