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

Mar 02, 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: Science to the rescue of art

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microalgae – the factories of the future

19 hours ago

Biology professor Ralf Kaldenhoff is making microalgae fit for industry. The microorganisms could produce a variety of products from carbon dioxide and light.

Recommended for you

Chemical biologists find new halogenation enzyme

14 hours ago

Molecules containing carbon-halogen bonds are produced naturally across all kingdoms of life and constitute a large family of natural products with a broad range of biological activities. The presence of halogen substituents ...

Protein secrets of Ebola virus

20 hours ago

The current Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, which has claimed more than 2000 lives, has highlighted the need for a deeper understanding of the molecular biology of the virus that could be critical in ...

Protein courtship revealed through chemist's lens

20 hours ago

Staying clear of diseases requires that the proteins in our cells cooperate with one another. But, it has been a well-guarded secret how tens of thousands of different proteins find the correct dancing partners ...

Decoding 'sweet codes' that determine protein fates

22 hours ago

We often experience difficulties in identifying the accurate shape of dynamic and fluctuating objects. This is especially the case in the nanoscale world of biomolecules. The research group lead by Professor Koichi Kato of ...

User comments : 0