Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A. 2014 Feb; 102(2): 470-8.
Titanium dioxide is a naturally occurring white powder approved by the FDA. It is used as a white coloring in many products we use every day such as toothpaste, sunscreen, cosmetics, and candy. For years the Feingold Association has considered titanium dioxide an acceptable ingredient and natural coloring, specifically mentioning it in the Foodlist in products such as cheese, cottage cheese, and mayonnaise, where it may have been listed as “artificial color” on the ingredient label.
So what happened?
What happened is that the industry has taken this natural material and created ultra-fine particles called nanoparticles (NP). These NPs have taken over the industry and that is what you may find now in your cosmetics, foods, toothpaste, candy, paints, aerosols, etc. (Whether the titanium dioxide used in products listed in the Feingold Foodlist is still the acceptable old kind, or the new “nano” kind will have to be determined by their Product Information volunteers; meanwhile, you may want to reread your labels.)
Ze et al exposed mice to various levels of the TiO2 NP (via their noses) for 90 consecutive days, after which their brain injuries and the related changes in “gene expression” were investigated.
NOTE: Although genes are often called the “blueprint” of everything we are, they can be turned on and off, up-regulated, down-regulated, etc., by things we are exposed to in the environment.
Ze’s group found that 249 genes were affected by the titanium dioxide NP – these genes are the ones involved in the immune system, memory, learning, brain development, DNA repair, and other normal brain cell activities. They identified gene “markers” for brain damage caused by this chemical.
Ze concluded that “application of TiO2 NPs should be carried out cautiously.” Cautiously? How about not at all? Is brain damage a price we are willing to pay for smooth sunscreen and cottage cheese? The Center for Food Safety doesn’t think so, and they are launching a Halloween campaign inviting people to write to Mars asking them to more quickly remove not only the food dyes and titanium dioxide nanoparticles it has agreed to remove (in 5 years), but also any other nanoparticles they are using. I am pretty sure nothing will happen this Halloween, which is only a few days away – but maybe by next Halloween there will have been some changes.
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Some other studies on TiO2 NP (use the link above to get the password if needed):
- Song2016: Unraveling the neurotoxicity of titanium dioxide nanoparticles: Focusing on molecular mechanisms. [MEDLINE] [FULL TEXT]
- Grissa 2016: The effect of titanium dioxide nanoparticles
on neuroinflammation response in rat brain [MEDLINE] [FULL TEXT]
- Chen 2016: Influence of silver and titanium dioxide nanoparticles on in vitro blood-brain barrier permeability. (brain) [MEDLINE] [FULL TEXT]
- Hong 2016: Titanium dioxide nanoparticle-induced dysfunction of cardiac hemodynamics is involved in cardiac inflammation in mice. (heart damage)
[MEDLINE] [FULL TEXT]
- Liu 2016: Lung inflammation caused by long-term exposure to titanium dioxide in mice involving in NF-κB signaling pathway. [MEDLINE]
- Rahman 2016: Toxicogenomics analysis of mouse lung responses following exposure to titanium dioxide nanomaterials reveal their disease potential at high doses. [MEDLINE] [FULL TEXT]
- Song 2016: Contribution of oxidative stress to TiO2 nanoparticle-induced toxicity. [MEDLINE]
- Grissa 2015: Anemia and genotoxicity induced by sub-chronic intragastric treatment of rats with titanium dioxide nanoparticles. (anemia, blood cell & bone marrow damage) [MEDLINE] [FULL TEXT]
- Sheng 2013: Cardiac oxidative damage in mice following exposure to nanoparticulate titanium dioxide. (heart damage) [MEDLINE] [FULL TEXT]
- Ze 2013: Molecular mechanism of titanium dioxide nanoparticles-induced oxidative injury in the brain of mice. (brain damage) [MEDLINE] [FULL TEXT]
- Li 2013: Molecular mechanisms of nanosized titanium dioxide-induced pulmonary injury in mice. (lung damage, cell damage, 847 genes affected) [MEDLINE] [FULL TEXT]
- Gao 2012: Ovarian dysfunction and gene-expressed characteristics of female mice caused by long-term exposure to titanium dioxide nanoparticles. (ovary damage) [MEDLINE] [FULL TEXT]
- Sun 2012: Pulmotoxicological effects caused by long-term titanium dioxide nanoparticles exposure in mice. (lung damage) [MEDLINE] [FULL TEXT]