17

votes

Does carrageenan cause cancer?

Answered on December 11, 2014
Created July 12, 2010 at 4:01 AM

Carrageenan is an ingredient found in many processed foods. Often processed dairy products (like yogurt or ice cream), some processed meats, and in other things, like milk substitutes (soy milk). It's in lots of other foods too. Basically it is common in processed food so most people are consuming it. It's always listed in the ingredients although if one of the ingredients is condensed milk then it probably has carrageenan in it too.

Joanne Tobacman is a leading proponent of the theory that carrageenan is a cause of a range of cancers (especially gastrointestinal ones) and other illnesses like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Search "carrageenan Tobacman" in Google Scholar and you'll find a lot of relevant studies she has been involved in.

It's really alarming, but the establishment says that carrageenan is completely safe. The degraded form, poligeenan, is the one that is considered dangerous, but Tobacman says that the digestive process (stomach acids, gut bacteria) degrades carrageenan into this more dangerous form.

Carrageenan is an ingredient extracted from red seaweeds. It is a vegetarian alternative (along with xanthum gum and agar) to gelatin, an animal ingredient made from hooves and bones of cattle and pigs.

I wonder what your opinions are...I've kind of become really interested in this topic because I am an ex-vegan and when I was vegan every day I had soy milk every day and that is made with carrageenan and I never knew about the concerns about it. But I also see brands of dairy yogurt that are made with carrageenan and some that are made with gelatin. Should we tell people that if they consume yogurt or any other food which might have carrageenan, they should try to get the kind without carrageenan?

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on June 27, 2013
at 11:18 PM

I cant believe that your cream has carrageenan in it. Cream should be made with one ingredient, milk. So glad I live in Aus.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19473)

on April 21, 2013
at 02:32 PM

Cancer is like a lottery. 1tbsp a day sounds small, daily, it's 365tbsp. At what point do you "win"? Might it be better to avoid the whole thing and use coconut oil + butter, in a bulletproof coffee instead? That's what I do.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19473)

on April 21, 2013
at 02:21 PM

For one thing, stop. For another, whole milk is much better. At minimum get whole organic milk, if you can't find raw. You can turn it into chocolate yourself by using cocoa powder and a safe sweetener such as pure stevia extract, maple syrup, or honey. Skim is the left overs after they steal the cream to make butter and ice cream. Don't buy into the fat is bad lie.

5eecec35b0d849efbadd5527465928a0

on January 01, 2012
at 06:44 PM

Soy causes cancer, but they keep it a secret.

1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on January 01, 2012
at 01:26 AM

everything causes cancer...

306aa57660d911781231f8090c2a5619

(3808)

on July 07, 2011
at 01:40 PM

You can also make coconut milk from shredded coconut. Much cheaper than canned (especially if you're going organic/BPA/additive-free, rather than some random brand), too.

9bc6f3df8db981f67ea1465411958c8d

(3690)

on July 20, 2010
at 09:29 PM

If you buy the coconut cream and mix it with water you'll have the coconut milk without the guar gum. That's what I like to do anyway.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on July 12, 2010
at 10:59 PM

Interesting. I wonder if there is any difference consuming the seaweeds whole. Seaweeds including carrageenan have a long history of use in different parts of the world.

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14 Answers

7
3eb3f79868b24b3df4450ea2d4f9a5d5

(2387)

on July 12, 2010
at 05:31 AM

Definitely. I wrote an article about this a while ago: http://www.urgeschmack.de/carrageen/ There are a few quotations and links in English there.

http://fanaticcook.blogspot.com had a great post about it and this one is kind of like the jackpot of studies on this subject: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/2001/109p983-994tobacman/tobacman-full.html

In Germany, we just "lost" the last big manufacturer of whole cream without carrageenan. Where their product description previously boasted with pride that they don't use carrageenan because of health complications, it now says...nothing. There are only few small regional brands left without any crap in them.

As for myself, I decided to buy some more raw milk and skim it for cream. By the away: Whipping cream stiff is easier without carrageenan.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on July 12, 2010
at 10:59 PM

Interesting. I wonder if there is any difference consuming the seaweeds whole. Seaweeds including carrageenan have a long history of use in different parts of the world.

4
6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6

(2119)

on July 12, 2010
at 12:34 PM

Carrageenan and guar gum are both ingredients that I take pains to avoid. I find that they seem to stop up my bowels, especially guar gum, but neither has good results. :/

It's tough to find coconut milk without guar gum, but it is possible. Legumes and I don't get along at all anyway, and guar gum is from a bean.

I'm deeply suspicious of both additives, and I've often wondered how many Atkins-style low carbers give up their beloved HWC because of issues that are actually caused by carrageenan.

9bc6f3df8db981f67ea1465411958c8d

(3690)

on July 20, 2010
at 09:29 PM

If you buy the coconut cream and mix it with water you'll have the coconut milk without the guar gum. That's what I like to do anyway.

306aa57660d911781231f8090c2a5619

(3808)

on July 07, 2011
at 01:40 PM

You can also make coconut milk from shredded coconut. Much cheaper than canned (especially if you're going organic/BPA/additive-free, rather than some random brand), too.

3
6ae3ecd200f47d90fd99031843d30b72

(30)

on August 13, 2010
at 04:33 PM

A graduate student in Harvard's History of Science department wrote this paper on carrageenan in 2008:

Carrageenan and the Acceptance of Food Additive Toxicity, 1950-2000

It's worth reading and shows the tug of war between science and industry. Based on studies in recent years, it's best to avoid it. In reference to a paleo-like diet (SCD), there's some more notes on it here: ILLEGAL LIST: CARRAGEENAN

2
9bc6f3df8db981f67ea1465411958c8d

on July 12, 2010
at 08:39 AM

I'm still dealing with leaky gut problems and bacterial overgrowth so I'm currently taking loads of probiotics in supplement form.

I recently tried Dr. Ohhira's Essential Formulas probiotic because it's very popular and a lot of people report very good results with it. If you take a look at the ingredients, you'll see it has carrageenan in it.

I'm not 100% sure that this is the reason why, but my problem became much worse with that probiotic and as soon as I stopped taking it I was better. Note that I'm not talking about a die-off symptom of something like that, but rather gut irritation and burning.

So the take home message for my money is to stay far away from that ingredient.

1
41add5697e9216974816c48cd5d06045

on May 21, 2013
at 07:44 AM

  1. SO MUCH FOR THE MYTHS. CONSIDER THE FACTS ON CARRAGEENAN FOR A CHANGE.

Q. What is Carrageenan?

... A. Carrageenan is a naturally-occurring seaweed extract. It is widely used in foods and non-foods to improve texture and stability. Common uses include meat and poultry, dairy products, canned pet food, cosmetics and toothpaste. Q. Why the controversy? A. Self-appointed consumer watchdogs have produced numerous web pages filled with words condemning carrageenan as an unsafe food additive for human consumption. However, in 70+ years of carrageenan being used in processed foods, not a single substantiated claim of an acute or chronic disease has been reported as arising from carrageenan consumption. On a more science-based footing, food regulatory agencies in the US, the EU, and in the UN???s Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) repeatedly review and continue to approve carrageenan as a safe food additive. Q. What has led up to this misrepresentation of the safety of an important food stabilizer, gelling agent and thickener? A. It clearly has to be attributed to the research of Dr. Joanne Tobacman, an Associate Prof at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She and a group of molecular biologists have accused carrageenan of being a potential inflammatory agent as a conclusion from laboratory experiments with cells of the digestive tract. It requires a lot of unproven assumptions to even suggest that consumption of carrageenan in the human diet causes inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract. The objectivity of the Chicago research is also flawed by the fact that Dr Tobacman has tried to have carrageenan declared an unsafe food additive on weak technical arguments that she broadcast widely a decade before the University of Chicago research began.

Q. What brings poligeenan into a discussion of carrageenan? A. Poligeenan (???degraded carrageenan??? in pre-1988 scientific and regulatory publications) is a possible carcinogen to humans; carrageenan is not. The only relationship between carrageenan and poligeenan is that the former is the starting material to make the latter. Poligeenan is not a component of carrageenan and cannot be produced in the digestive tract from carrageenan-containing foods. Q. What are the differences between poligeenan and carrageenan? A. The production process for poligeenan requires treating carrageenan with strong acid at high temp (about that of boiling water) for 6 hours or more. These severe processing conditions convert the long chains of carrageenan to much shorter ones: ten to one hundred times shorter. In scientific terms the molecular weight of poligeenan is 10,000 to 20,000; whereas that of carrageenan is 200,000 to 800,000. Concern has been raised about the amount of material in carrageenan with molecular weight less than 50,000. The actual amount (well under 1%) cannot even be detected accurately with current technology. Certainly it presents no threat to human health. Q. What is the importance of these molecular weight differences? A. Poligeenan contains a fraction of material low enough in molecular weight that it can penetrate the walls of the digestive tract and enter the blood stream. The molecular weight of carrageenan is high enough that this penetration is impossible. Animal feeding studies starting in the 1960s have demonstrated that once the low molecular weight fraction of poligeenan enters the blood stream in large enough amounts, pre-cancerous lesions begin to form. These lesions are not observed in animals fed with a food containing carrageenan.

Q. Does carrageenan get absorbed in the digestive track? A. Carrageenan passes through the digestive system intact, much like food fiber. In fact, carrageenan is a combination of soluble and insoluble nutritional fiber, though its use level in foods is so low as not to be a significant source of fiber in the diet. Summary Carrageenan has been proven completely safe for consumption. Poligeenan is not a component of carrageenan. Closing Remarks The consumer watchdogs with their blogs and websites would do far more service to consumers by researching their sources and present only what can be substantiated by good science. Unfortunately we are in an era of media frenzy that rewards controversy. Additional information available: On June 11th, 2008, Dr. Joanne Tobacman petitioned the FDA to revoke the current regulations permitting use of carrageenan as a food additive. On June 11th, 2012 the FDA denied her petition, categorically addressing and ultimately dismissing all of her claims; their rebuttal supported by the results of several in-depth, scientific studies. If you would like to read the full petition and FDA response, they can be accessed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!searchResults;rpp=25;po=0;s=FDA-2008-P-0347

1
Ae237047e73d855aa9d5ca0453181795

on April 21, 2013
at 12:57 AM

I BEEN GIVING MY GREAT GRAND DAUGHTER NATREL CHOCLATE MILK 1 PER CENT M.F.SKIMMED THE SHELF ONE .WHOA BAD IT IS PLEASE TELL ME .CAUSE IREADING ABOUT THE CARRAGEENAN

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19473)

on April 21, 2013
at 02:21 PM

For one thing, stop. For another, whole milk is much better. At minimum get whole organic milk, if you can't find raw. You can turn it into chocolate yourself by using cocoa powder and a safe sweetener such as pure stevia extract, maple syrup, or honey. Skim is the left overs after they steal the cream to make butter and ice cream. Don't buy into the fat is bad lie.

1
Dcfe5aee1a8bcae8f1589beee4d06c68

(10)

on January 01, 2012
at 12:06 AM

i find it alarming they are now saying that carrageenan inhibits hpv, which is known cause of many cancers from the genital into the digestive areas. it seems they would want to sneak this into all our food now to try and keep people safe from hpv exposure... and somehow, it seems to be proven to actually help prevent infection and is being put into lubricants and what not now. this is insane to me. if its good for fighting hpv why is it horrible for so many other things? its bad. i hate all these things.

1
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on July 07, 2011
at 01:59 PM

Produce some studies on carrageenan and whatever, otherwise, it's all "broscience".

1
Ff159f1c652246b3723f8d597633eb8a

on July 07, 2011
at 05:41 AM

Having Cancer, I am always looking for Carageenan-free products. Carageenan and Refined Sugar (Cane,Corn,'Granulated') are dangerous for Cancer Patients because Cancer loves Sugar and the Carageenan is a CELLULAR irritant and not confined to the gut. I love icecream and have found NONE that do not have in excess of 5gm sugar/tbsp. An average dish of the lowest sugar product, then, has about as much sugar as a 12oz. Coca-Cola/Pepsi...unacceptable except for one thing: the food industry is working hard to make everyone sick. Pharmaceuticals are designed to TREAT diseases without cure, and the net effect is a slow-acting kind of Genocide.

The talking-point logic of industry proponents studiously and meticulously avoids discussion of the most obvious answer to the question of why this is happening: Money. The Food Industries are a monopoly for city dwellers; the profits from selling processed food products are therefor enormous. Pharmaceutical Manufacturers would produce themselves out of the market if their "medicines" cured the diseases that they now maintain. How much profit from these two corporate behemoths ends up in Wall Street is anybody's guess, but, cessation of investment would result in a "Big Bear" market, or crash. This has resulted in an enhanced economic/social stratification...the quick and the dead.

Green foods, especially organic ones are the diet. Nauseating, revolting and worse than chemo, but, "It's the diet"

0
C017efc15dde9ed725a6a245f01e4b88

on December 11, 2014
at 10:38 PM

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0
368568eb91f1b58d2f52c9c566d331b5

(182)

on November 22, 2011
at 07:32 PM

The poison is in the dose.

I agree it's best to avoid it if possible, but until I see a number that indicates otherwise I'll assume the amount of carageenan I get in my daily 1 tbsp of cream isn't doing too much damage.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19473)

on April 21, 2013
at 02:32 PM

Cancer is like a lottery. 1tbsp a day sounds small, daily, it's 365tbsp. At what point do you "win"? Might it be better to avoid the whole thing and use coconut oil + butter, in a bulletproof coffee instead? That's what I do.

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on June 27, 2013
at 11:18 PM

I cant believe that your cream has carrageenan in it. Cream should be made with one ingredient, milk. So glad I live in Aus.

0
E6b9919ba9f5be21bdeff67e1fe3ad37

on November 22, 2011
at 07:00 PM

According to Blaylock's book, Health Secrets that can save your Life, carageenan is a toxic cancer fertiilzer. I avoid it like the plague!

-2
B890e9a400ad31d32dbb66d542c0e6b5

(-4)

on March 21, 2012
at 08:45 AM

The basic informations of Carrageenan:

  1. Carrageenan E number is E407, CAS No. is 9000-07-1.

  2. Carrageenan has two kinds, one is refined carrageenan, the other is semi refined carrageenan.

  3. Carrageenan is widly used as food additive and ingredients and medicine in our daily life.

  4. Although we are not the largest carrageenan facotry in China,but we are the best quality carrageenan manufacturer.

You can click "Inquiry" to leave message about our product - Carrageenan. Also, you can email us, email : Info@Foodchem.com. We will reply you soon. Foodchem.com can supply samples to client. Through the sample, clients can understand carrageenan well.

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