Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jan. 28 ~ Toxin of the Day: BHA/BHT

BHA stands for Butylated Hydroxyanisole. It is a preservative that prevents or slows oxidization in fats. (an antioxidant but not the good kind found in fruits and vegetables.) It is more prevalently added to higher fat foods to prevent rancidity. The FDA put it on the GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) list, however recommends limiting the consumption and has asked that additional testing be done. That suggests to me that they don't really find it that safe. Closely related to BHA is it's chemical cousin, BHT or Butyl Hydroxytulane. The chemical effects are the same

BHA has been shown in animal studies to cause cancer in at least 3 different species, in different organs in each species. It has also been proven to cause brain damage, upset the endocrine balance, and severe allergic reactions. The US Dept of Health and Human Service is quoted as saying that BHA is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen." BHT is stored in human fat and can be released into the body in large doses during weight loss. It has been shown to increase the risk of cancer in animal studies.

Both of these chemicals are commonly found in potato chips, chewing gum, and vegetable oils. These potential carcinogens are also found in many cosmetic products including lip balm and diaper rash cream for babies.

BHA and BHT are completely banned in Europe and cannot be used in either cosmetics or food. In North America the Cosmetic Safety Database classifies BHA as a "high risk" product and lists the following as indicated health effects:
developmental/reproductive toxicity
allergies/ immunotoxicity
organ system toxicity
endocrine disfunction
biochemical or cellular level changes
I came upon the cosmetic information accidentally but it makes me realize that as we strive for chemical-free foods, applying these same chemicals to our skin may be equally harmful.
BHA and BHT are now on my list of products to keep OUT of my house!

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