Titanium dioxide (E171), a food additive used to whiten foods, has health effects. There may also be a relationship between colon cancer and titanium dioxide.
For several years now, indications have appeared in the scientific literature that titanium dioxide may also play a role in the development of colon cancer.
Suspended in France
In France, the food additive may no longer be used from 1 January 2020, but it is still allowed in the rest of Europe. Due to the ban in France, EFSA will now reconsider its opinion on the food additive E171.
What is Titanium Dioxide?
Titanium dioxide is used as a white colorant. It is used in a variety of products such as toothpaste, supplements and medicines, as well as in foods such as candy, chewing gum, pudding, coffee creamer, baking products and white sauces, where it is added as a food additive E171. Titanium dioxide has no nutritional value. It consists partly of nanoparticles that do not dissolve and are poorly removed from the body and can therefore accumulate in organs.
Nanoparticles in organs
In 2018, RIVM and the RIKILT research institute demonstrated titanium dioxide particles in the liver and spleen of humans for the first time. At least a quarter of the titanium dioxide particles found turned out to be nanoparticles. These analyzes were repeated in 2020. In addition, titanium particles were measured in intestinal tissue and the kidneys of humans. Recent scientific findings may show a relationship between colon cancer and E171 or titanium dioxin, even with amounts of this substance with which the consumer may come into contact on a daily basis.
Possible relationship with colon cancer
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) have concluded that titanium dioxide is carcinogenic when inhaled. This concerns powdered titanium dioxide, which contains 1% or more particles smaller than or equal to 10 micrometers. For other types of titanium dioxide, and other exposure routes, such as via ingestion, this classification does not apply. However, there are animal studies in which titanium dioxide, after swallowing, has effects on the intestinal wall and the liver, which may lead to intestinal tumors or liver inflammation. However, it remains unclear whether effects at the cellular level in the animal studies also occur in humans.