'We now eat food grown by unnatural processes which make use of a host of chemical substances: hormones, antibiotics, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides - of which residues are to be found in nearly all the food commercially available today.' Edward Goldsmith, The Ecologist, Vol 30 No 7, October 2000
Although toxicologists are able to investigate single substances quite efficiently, they have no basic methods for analyzing complex mixtures of toxic substances and the 'cocktail' effect of the mixture of several hundred synthetic chemicals that each one of us carries in our body.
According to the EWG's Body Burden website, there are 80,000 chemicals in commerce. The site states, "No one is ever exposed to a single chemical, but to a chemical soup, the ingredients of which may interact to cause unpredictable health effects."
There are only a few studies that evaluate the combined effects of food additives. One 2006 study published in Toxicology Science concludes that the combination of several common additives appears to have a neurotoxic effect. "Although the use of single food additives at their regulated concentrations is believed to be relatively safe in terms of neuronal development, their combined effects remain unclear." Of the four additives examined, only one is banned in the US, while the rest remain in the foods on our grocery store shelves. A 2000 study, looked at the combination of four major food additives or a mixture of six typical artificial food colours and found indications of toxicity in both.
Perhaps the most alarming study comes from a 1976 Journal of Food Science. Young rats were fed a low-fiber diet along with sodium cyclamate, FD&C Red No. 2, and polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monostearate individually and in combination. While the study found that any one of the three food additives given individually had little negative effect, the combination of all three additives resulted in weight loss and the death of all test animals within 14 days. Sodium cyclamate is an artificial sweetener banned in the U.S., but FD&C Red No. 2, a food dye, and polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monostearate, an emulsifier, are still in regular use in the food supply, according to the FDA's website.
And it's not just food. A number of additional toxins also enter our systems from other industrial sources often in the form of phthalate plasticizers and parabens -- both of which are used in personal care products, some medications, and even foods and food preservation. The vast majority of us use some form of shampoo, soap, lotion, and antiperspirant every day, and these toxins are absorbed through the skin.
Chemicals used in all of these industrial products are big business and food corporations are once again some of the biggest offenders. Many own shares in some of the largest personal care companies in the world. For example, Nestlé owns 30 percent of the world's largest cosmetic and beauty company L'Oreal. They use cheap, industrial ingredients to maintain their enormous profit margins.
Our governments are not being proactive. Using the precautionary approach when purchasing food and personal care products is the only solution currently available. Read the label - your body will thank you.