How Much Risk Do Synthetic Food Dyes Actually Pose to Your Health? Here's The Science

Since the early 1990s, there has been an increase in early-onset colorectal cancer incidence among young people, who are classified as those under 50. By 2030, rates of colon and rectal cancer are anticipated to rise by 90% and 124%, respectively.

Increased global consumption of a Westernized diet that strongly emphasizes red and processed meats, added sugar, and refined carbohydrates is one theory for the development of this trend. The SAD, commonly referred to as the "Standard American Diet," contains 60% ultra-processed foods such industrially baked desserts, soft beverages, and processed meat. A higher risk of colorectal cancer is connected to SAD.

The amount of color in ultra-processed meals is one factor that worries me. Many wonderful delicacies and snacks offered throughout the year-end holidays showcase this trait to perfection.

However, many of the hues seen in holiday favorites like candy canes, sugar cookies, cranberry sauce, and roast ham are artificial. Additionally, there is some evidence to suggest that these synthetic food colours may stimulate internal cancer-causing mechanisms.

I have been researching how these synthetic food colours affect the onset of colorectal cancer as the head of the Center for Colon Cancer Research at the University of South Carolina.

Even while research on the possible cancer risk of synthetic food dyes is still in its early stages, I think you should give it some thought before choosing that festive treat.

What are artificial food colors?

Synthetic dyes are used in the food sector because they improve the appearance of food. In the late 1800s, coal tar was used to produce the first food colors. These days, they are frequently produced synthetically from the chemical naphthalene, which is sourced from petroleum, to create a finished good called an azo dye.

Because synthetic colors are more affordable, brighter, and long-lasting than natural hues like beet extract, food makers prefer them. Over the last century, producers have created hundreds of synthetic food colors, the most of which are poisonous. According to U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines, just nine are permitted for use in food, and even fewer are accepted under European Union standards.

Why does colorectal cancer develop?

The main cause of colorectal cancer is DNA damage. On cancer driver genes, DNA damage can lead to a mutation that instructs the cell to divide uncontrollably and develop into cancer.

Inflammation is another factor that causes colon cancer. When the immune system releases inflammatory cells to start treating a wound or remove germs that cause disease, inflammation results.

By generating chemicals known as free radicals that may damage DNA, this inflammation can affect normally healthy cells if it lasts for an extended period of time.

When there isn't an injury to heal, cytokines, another sort of chemical, can prolong inflammation, promote accelerated cell division, and promote the growth of cancer in the gut.

While inflammatory molecules continue to harm otherwise healthy cells, long-term bad eating habits can cause a simmering low-grade inflammation that doesn't manifest any symptoms.

Cancer and synthetic food colors

Despite the fact that none of the FDA-approved artificial food colors are considered carcinogenic, recent research suggests possible health hazards that both I and others find alarming.

For instance, the microorganisms in your stomach may convert synthetic colors into cancer-causing chemicals. The relationship between the microbiota and probable cancer risk from synthetic food coloring need further study.

Artificial food colours can link to the DNA and proteins found inside of cells, according to studies. Additionally, there is some proof that synthetic colors might activate the immune system and cause inflammation. The health of the colon and the rectal area may be harmed by either of these ways.

Rodents' DNA has been proven to be harmed by synthetic food dyes. Unpublished evidence from my research group supports this, demonstrating that Allura Red, also known as Red 40, and Tartrazine, often known as Yellow 5, can damage DNA in colon cancer cells when used at higher doses and for longer periods of time in vitro in a sterile lab setting.

But before we can declare that these colors actually caused DNA damage, our findings need to be confirmed in animal and human models.

Finally, children may have unique safety concerns with artificial food coloring. Because their bodies are still growing, youngsters are known to be more susceptible to environmental pollutants. I and other others think that this worry could also apply to synthetic food colours, especially in light of how commonplace they are in kid's meals.

In a large North Carolina supermarket, almost 40% of the food goods marketed toward kids had artificial food coloring, according to a 2016 research. It is necessary to do further study to determine the potential effects on youngsters of prolonged exposure to artificial food dyes.

reducing the chance of developing colorectal cancer

A few Christmas indulgences won't result in colorectal cancer. However, a prolonged diet high in processed foods could. There are evidence-based actions you can take right away to lower your risk of colorectal cancer, even if additional study is required to determine the relationship between artificial food dyes and cancer.

Get checked for colon cancer as one option. Increasing your physical activity is another option. Finally, you may consume a balanced diet that includes more veggies and whole grains while consuming less alcohol and red and processed meat. Although doing this means consuming less of the festive, highly processed foods that may be in plenty over the holidays, your digestive system will eventually thank you.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.