Millions of tons of titanium dioxide are produced globally each year. It adds whiteness and brightness to products and also helps them resist discoloration. Titanium dioxide also reflects ultraviolet (UV) light, which is why it’s often used as an ingredient in sunscreens.
Most titanium dioxide (close to 70 percent) is used as a pigment in paints, but it’s also added to cosmetics, toothpastes, pharmaceuticals, paper and food.
Titanium dioxide is generally considered to be a relatively inert, safe material, but an increasing number of products are now using titanium dioxide nanoparticles, and that may change everything.
Nanoparticles are ultramicroscopic in size, making them able to readily penetrate your skin and travel to underlying blood vessels and your bloodstream.
Evidence suggests that some nanoparticles may induce toxic effects in your brain and cause nerve damage, and some may also be carcinogenic.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies titanium dioxide as a Group 2B carcinogen, which means it’s “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” This was based on an animal study showing inhaling high concentrations of titanium dioxide dust may lead to lung cancer.
Is Titanium Dioxide in Foods Dangerous?
Candies, sweets and chewing gum have been found to contain the highest levels of titanium dioxide. White powdered doughnuts, candies and gums with hard shells, products with white icing and even bread, mayonnaise, yogurt and other dairy products may contain titanium dioxide.
As such, one analysis of exposure to titanium dioxide through foods found children receive the highest exposure levels (two to four times more than adults) because it’s so commonly added to sweets.1 Only a “limited number” of the products tested in one study listed titanium dioxide on the label.2
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration actually allows manufacturers to use up to 1 percent food-grade titanium dioxide without declaring it on labels.3
It should be noted that many titanium particles used in food products are not nanoparticles (defined as smaller than 100 nanometers in diameter). However, some are.
According to research published in Environmental Science and Technology, up to 36 percent of the titanium dioxide found in nearly 90 food products was of the nanoparticle variety.4
It’s unclear what health risks may be linked to ingestion of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, but research suggests there’s cause for concern.
One animal study published in Cancer Research, for instance, found titanium dioxide nanoparticles may induce clastogenicity (causing breaks in chromosomes), genotoxicity, oxidative DNA damage and inflammation.
The researchers suggested they may be a cause of caner or genetic disorders and concluded:5
“These results have been observed after only 5 days of treatment via drinking water, and in multiple organs suggesting a systemic effect …
We also showed that in utero exposure to TiO2 NPs [titanium dioxide nanoparticles] results in an increased frequency in DNA deletions in the fetus.
… These data suggest that we should be concerned about a potential risk of cancer or genetic disorders especially for people occupationally exposed to high concentrations of TiO2 NPs
…[A]nd that it might be prudent to limit ingestion of TiO2 NPs through nonessential drug additives, food colors etc.”
Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles May Harm Your Brain
The use of nanoparticles is increasing rapidly, and titanium dioxide nanoparticles are the second most produced engineered nanomaterial in the world.6
Its usage in consumer products has outpaced the research into its safety, such that humans are being repeatedly exposed before we know the consequences. What is known, however, is that titanium dioxide nanoparticles are capable of moving from your lungs or gastrointestinal tract to other organs.7
Further, animal studies indicate significant accumulation of nanoparticles in the brain, while toxicity studies have shown the particles have negative effects on brain cell viability and function.8
One recent study even showed titanium dioxide nanoparticles induced “an increase in reactive oxygen species generation, and a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential, suggesting mitochondrial damage.”
The researchers believe exposure to the particles may lead to neurological dysfunction.9 Specifically, the nanoparticles were found to harm astrocyte cells, which help regulate serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters.
High levels of exposure (100 parts per million) killed two-thirds of such brain cells within one day. It also harmed the cells’ mitochondria, which may ultimately lead to cell death.
Oxidative Stress and Mitochondrial Damage
The study also revealed that astrocyte cells that weren’t killed were left damaged; they became unable to absorb glutamate, a neurotransmitter, such that it accumulated outside the cell, which may be implicated in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.10
Other research also suggests titanium dioxide nanoparticles may have hidden brain risks. For instance:
- Prenatal exposure to titanium dioxide nanoparticles may result in alteration to the cerebral cortex, olfactory bulb and brain regions intimately related to dopamine systems of offspring mice.11
- Exposure to titanium dioxide nanoparticles may alter oxidative and inflammatory responses as well as the renin-angiotensin system in the brain (which plays a role in cardiovascular health, including hypertension, and aging), thereby modulating brain function.12
- Titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2 NPs) induce strong oxidative stress and mitochondrial damage in glial cells in your brain. According to research published in Free Radical Biology & Medicine:13
“TiO2 NPs can enter directly into the brain through the olfactory bulb and can be deposited in the hippocampus region …
TiO2 NPs … produced morphological changes, damage of mitochondria, and an increase in mitochondrial membrane potential, indicating toxicity.”
What About Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles in Personal Care Products?
Titanium dioxide nanoparticles are found most often in personal care products such as toothpaste, sunscreen and, to a lesser extent, shampoos, deodorants, and shaving creams. As with food, use of these nanoparticles in personal care products is on the rise.
In 2005, about 1,300 metric tons were used in personal care products, but this had increased to 5,000 metric tons by 2010 and is expected to continue increasing until at least 2025.14
Although most studies suggest titanium dioxide does not penetrate human skin, even in nanoparticle form, one study found that the nanoparticles could possibly penetrate the outer layer of skin depending on the particle coating and skin (with or without hair).15
As further reported in Environmental Science and Toxicology:16
“The only FDA-stipulated limitation for sunscreens is that the TiO2 concentration be less than 25%. Most have a lower concentration, between 2% and 15%.
With the wide prevalence of sunscreen use and the lack of a distinction between TiO2 nanomaterials and larger-sized particles, the general public is being exposed to nanomaterials of which they are largely ignorant.”
Environmental Risks Are Unknown
Also concerning is what happens when all of the nanoparticles in personal care products (and excreted after they’re consumed in your food) are washed down the drain and flushed down the toilet. Study author Paul Westerhoff, a professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and The Built Environment at Arizona State University and Senior Sustainability Scientist to the Global Institute of Sustainability, told Nanowerk:17
“… [W]e can expect the percentage of TiO2 [titanium dioxide] that is produced in or near the nano range to increase. TiO2 nanomaterials in foods, consumer products, and household products are discharged as feces/urine, washed off of surfaces, or disposed of to sewage that enters wastewater treatment plants.
While these plants capture most of the TiO2, nanoparticles measuring between 4 and 30 nm were still found in the treated effluent. These nanomaterials are then released to surface waters, where they can interact with living organisms.”
Tips for Avoiding Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles
Titanium dioxide nanoparticles are ubiquitous in processed foods, so the best way to avoid them is to eat real food. To avoid these particles in your toothpaste, consider making your own out of coconut oil. As for sunscreen, the other major source, first realize that titanium dioxide (and zinc oxide) is a top choice for sun protection (and doesn’t carry the same risks as hormone-disrupting sunscreen chemical oxybenzone).
To be on the safe side, however, look for non-nanoparticle titanium dioxide that is tested and guaranteed to be non-nano. Further, minimize your sunscreen use as much as possible, using it only when you’ll be in the sun for extended periods and the use of clothing to cover-up or going into the shade aren’t options.
Breakfast, blood sugar, & inflammation
Recent research has shown that Inflammation is responsible for 7 out of 10 Deaths in the United States. But it doesn’t have to be the same way for you.
In fact, in a fairly short amount of time, you could start to experience better sleep…less stomach issues…more energy and stamina…less muscle and joint pain…a drop in weight…lower stress levels…and much, much more!
Learn how to Prevent—Even Reverse—Most Major Diseases by “Turning Off” Inflammation!
Did you know that one of the best times to stretch is right before bed? However…
What stretches should you do? Here’s a 1-minute stretch routine you can do before bed...
Lisa, Yoga Coach
eatlocalgrown / wisemindhealthybody
...easy, 3-minute exercise that completely cured his horrendous snoring! We can both finally sleep!
Today is a good day. Tonight will be even better. Why?
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Did you know that your bodyfat can become "calorie-resistant"?
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To your health!
PS - Studies show that it can also reduce your risk of diabetes by 53.7%, a heart attack by 83.3% and stroke by 51.4%. Here's more of the scientific proof...
I bet you can’t guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat. This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
If this “hidden” most powerful primal muscle is healthy, we are healthy.
d) Hip Flexors
Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
In April, 2009, researchers stunned the medical community when they reported chronic inflammation as the root cause of several major diseases.
See, every year 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease. Cancer claims another 584,000...stroke 130,000...Alzheimer's disease nearly 85,000 — and the list goes on.
Truth is, we now know... chronic inflammation is responsible for 7 out of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States! Hundreds of studies and scientific reviews prove it.
Fortunately, newer research shows you can prevent-even reverse-most major diseases by "turning off" inflammation. And in our new book, we show you how to do just that.
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Over the past year, my friend Dave over at PaleoHacks has been working on a super secret cookbook project with our good friend Peter Servold a Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef and owner of Pete's Paleo...
And today, this new incredible Paleo Cookbook is finally available to be shipped right to your door for FREE!
The cookbook is called Paleo Eats, and it's filled with over 80 chef created, insanely tasty Paleo recipes which means they are free from gluten, soy, dairy, and refined sugar.
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Sponsored Health Resources
In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.
NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!
1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…
2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.
3) This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
4) I thought it was virtually impossible for a website to be able to tell me anything even a little bit insightful after only submitting my name and date of birth... I was wrong!
5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!
6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.
Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.