New Research Reveals Potential Health Risks of Common Food Additive and Cosmetic Ingredient
Stanford University researchers have made a groundbreaking discovery that challenges previous beliefs about silica, a widely used food additive and cosmetic ingredient. Contrary to popular belief, the researchers found that silica is not chemically inert. A recent study conducted by the team demonstrated that when commercially available silica particles were exposed to water solutions containing thiols – biomolecules found in nature and the human body – the thiol biomolecules underwent redox chemical reactions with the silica.
These reactions have the potential to degrade or alter the function of the biomolecules, thereby posing health risks. Specifically, the study found that low levels of glutathione, a crucial antioxidant found in most cells, could result from exposure to silica. This may lead to increased oxidative stress and damage to cellular components.
Given the extensive usage of silica in everyday products, the study highlights the urgent need for further research into its reactivity. Silica is commonly added to foods as an anticaking agent and is present in numerous cosmetics as a bulking or absorbing agent. Additionally, it is used in drug delivery and medical imaging.
The Food and Drug Administration currently allows foods to contain up to 2% by weight of silica particles. However, the findings from this study raise concerns about the continued use of silica in various applications. The researchers conducted experiments by incubating silica particles with watery solutions containing thiol-bearing biomolecules and observed the rates of chemical reactions using a mass spectrometer.
Interestingly, over time, up to 95% of the biomolecules were oxidized by the silica particles, whereas control experiments without silica showed minimal oxidation. The reactive silica particles were found to convert thiol-containing molecules to disulfide molecules, potentially altering their functions. The researchers propose that silica forms surface-bound silyloxy radicals upon contact with water, and the thiol biomolecules in the solution transfer hydrogen atoms to these radicals, forming S-S disulfides.
Future research will further investigate how varying sizes of silica particles and larger biomolecules influence the rates of these chemical reactions. It is crucial to thoroughly characterize the chemistry of silica in various applications to fully understand the potential risks associated with its use.
The findings of this study raise concerns about the depletion of critical compounds in the body, such as glutathione, due to silica particle exposure. Further investigations are encouraged to determine the extent of these risks and to inform regulatory bodies and manufacturers about safer alternatives and usage limits.
As consumers, it is essential to stay informed about such discoveries and advocate for the thorough assessment of ingredients used in everyday products. By understanding the potential health risks associated with commonly used additives like silica, we can make more informed choices to protect our well-being.
This article was originally published on Road Rug Cars.