Carageenan, a common food additive, proven to cause gastrointestinal distress and cancer

So why is it still found in processed foods? I’m never touching that stuff again.

If you have, or know someone who has, persistent or inexplicable gastrointestinal distress, this may be of interest to you; if not, skip it.

I have known for about three years that xanthan gum causes me serious gastointestinal distress, but just today came across something about CARAGEENAN. It is interesting to me, because I have had inexplicable gastrointestinal problems for at least two days, after eating some of my daughter’s birthday cookie each day since the 16th (it is now the 19th), and I used Wilton blue icing coloring gel in the frosting for that cookie. The icing coloring gel contains two thickeners–carageenan and agar. (I’ve never heard of agar. Maybe I should look that up, too.)

Normally, I am perfectly healthy and I can eat anything I want. I have no known food allergies.

I could just conclude that I should expect to get a tummy ache from eating cookies and M&M’s, but I don’t buy that, since I didn’t have that much of them. Moreover, generally when my sweet tooth takes me on a sugar jag, I can usually eat as much as I want without stomach upset, as long as the treat is home made from real whole foods. Yes, the blood sugar reaction is a ‘killer,’ but, yeah, what should I expect?

Here is the nasty on CARAGEENAN, a thickening agent in processed foods:
Per Dr. Joanne K. Tobacman, College of Medicine, University of Iowa, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242-1081, USA.

” Abstract
In this article I review the association between exposure to carrageenan and the occurrence of colonic ulcerations and gastrointestinal neoplasms in animal models. Although the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 1982 identified sufficient evidence for the carcinogenicity of degraded carrageenan in animals to regard it as posing a carcinogenic risk to humans, carrageenan is still used widely as a thickener, stabilizer, and texturizer in a variety of processed foods prevalent in the Western diet. I reviewed experimental data pertaining to carrageenan’s effects with particular attention to the occurrence of ulcerations and neoplasms in association with exposure to carrageenan. In addition, I reviewed from established sources mechanisms for production of degraded carrageenan from undegraded or native carrageenan and data with regard to carrageenan intake. Review of these data demonstrated that exposure to undegraded as well as to degraded carrageenan was associated with the occurrence of intestinal ulcerations and neoplasms. This association may be attributed to contamination of undegraded carrageenan by components of low molecular weight, spontaneous metabolism of undegraded carrageenan by acid hydrolysis under conditions of normal digestion, or the interactions with intestinal bacteria. Although in 1972, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considered restricting dietary carrageenan to an average molecular weight > 100,000, this resolution did not prevail, and no subsequent regulation has restricted use. Because of the acknowledged carcinogenic properties of degraded carrageenan in animal models and the cancer-promoting effects of undegraded carrageenan in experimental models, the widespread use of carrageenan in the Western diet should be reconsidered.

Comment in
Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Apr;110(4):A176; author reply A176-7. ”
(as posted at )

Here is a link to another reference, a full abstract:

So, yes, today, I am suffering–bad tummy ache with distension due to bloat. This is pretty close, but not quite the same as what happens every time I ingest even a small amount of XANTHAN GUM, another thickener/stabilizer.  When a xanthan gum attack hits me, I am usually perfectly fine again after it passes through my system, which usually takes less than 20 hours. I expect– make that ‘hope’–to experience the same regarding this substance called carageenan. I ate my last cookie with carageenan laced icing on it at 10:30 this morning so should feel fine by tomorrow morning.

When will processed foods manufacturers stop poisoning the food supply???

Then again, some people can stomach just about anything.

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