Two food additives with previously unrecognized estrogen-like effects in two food additives

March 2, 2009
Scientists have identified two food additives with previously unrecognized estrogen-like effects. One of the additives, 4-hexylresorcinol, is used to prevent discoloration in shrimp and other shellfish. Image: National Cancer Institute, Renee Comet

Scientists in Italy are reporting development and successful use of a fast new method to identify food additives that act as so-called "xenoestrogens" — substances with estrogen-like effects that are stirring international health concerns. They used the method in a large-scale screening of additives that discovered two additives with previously unrecognized xenoestrogen effects. Their report appears in the current edition of ACS' Chemical Research in Toxicology.

In the study, Pietro Cozzini and colleagues cite increasing concern about identifying these substances and about the possible health effects. Synthetic chemicals that mimic natural estrogens (called "xenoestrogens," literally, "foreign estrogens") have been linked to a range of human health effects. They range from reduced sperm counts in men to an increased risk of breast cancer in women.

The scientists used the new method to search a food additive database of 1,500 substances, and verified that the method could identify xenoestrogens. In the course of that work, they identified two previous unrecognized xenoestrogens. One was propyl gallate, a preservative used to prevent fats and oils from spoiling. The other was 4-hexylresorcinol, used to prevent discoloration in shrimp and other shellfish. "Some caution should be issued for the use of propyl gallate and 4-hexylresocrinol as food additives," they recommend in the study.

More information: "Identification of Xenoestrogens in Food Additives by an Integrated in Silico and In Vivo Approach", Chemical Research in Toxicology

Provided by ACS

Explore further: Most people feel guilty about discarding food, but say it would be hard to stop

Related Stories

Can palm oil be sustainable?

July 21, 2016

Land used for palm oil production could be nearly doubled without expanding into protected or high-biodiversity forests, according to a new study published in the journal Global Environmental Change. The study is the first ...

After the age of dinosaurs came the age of ant farmers

July 20, 2016

A group of South American ants has farmed fungi since shortly after the dinosaurs died out, according to an international research team including Smithsonian scientists. The genes of the ant farmers and their fungal crops ...

Recommended for you

Chemical synthesis of a powerful, high-energy compound

July 20, 2016

Trinitrotoluene or TNT has been considered as the standard measure for explosives for 100 years, although new high-energy-density materials or HEDMs outperform this substance in terms of explosion power, safety, but also ...

Researchers develop placenta-on-a-chip

July 22, 2016

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed the first placenta-on-a-chip that can fully model the transport of nutrients across the placental barrier.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.