Carrageenan-- hidden MSG and cancer causing? - Mothering Forums

Carrageenan-- hidden MSG and cancer causing?

essnce629's Avatar essnce629 (TS)
06:49 PM Liked: 13
#1 of 6
07-18-2010 | Posts: 476
Joined: Oct 2005
I just got the book Super Natural Home by Beth Greer and I love it. She has a chapter about food additives and she lists all the sources of hidden MSG. Carrageenan is listed as being an ingredient that "may contain MSG or that may creat MSG during processing." I've seen carrageenan listed on other sources as being a hidden source of MSG as well and that it's often used in reduced fat milk. So I checked my dairy products and non-dairy "milk" drinks and sure enough it's in my Trader Joe's Soy Essential soy milk, Pacific Natural Foods oat milk, and in my Clover organic lowfat cottage cheese (the only brand that is also Humane Certified)!!! Ugh! DS1 was dairy-free for 3 years, and then nut-free, and really likes his oat milk. He's back to eating regular dairy products now, but doesn't like the taste of regular milk. A lot of the non-dairy drinks seem to contain carrageenan.

I did a quick google search and came across this:

Review of Harmful Gastrointestinal Effects of Carrageenan in Animal Experiments

Because of the acknowledged carcinogenic properties of degraded carrageenan in animal models and the cancer-promoting effects of undegraded carrageenan in experimental models, the widespread use of carrageenan in the Western diet should be reconsidered.

It looks like they use it to induce colon inflammation/cancer in rats!

The anti-inflammatory effect of the drug, etoricoxib was also validated by a carrageenan-induced inflammation in rat model....

But then I found this and it seems like the food-grade version doesn't degrade and should be ok? I'm not sure.

A critical review of the toxicological effects of carrageenan and processed eucheuma seaweed on the gastrointestinal tract.
Carrageenan is not degraded to any extent in the gastrointestinal tract and is not absorbed from it in species examined, such as rodents, dogs, and non-human primates.

Looks like they're currently doing a study on the "Effects of Carrageenan-Elimination Diet on Ulcerative Colitis Disease Activity."
The study hypothesis is that withdrawal of carrageenan will lead to a longer, relapse free interval in patients with ulcerative colitis.

And it looks like they're looking into using it as an adjuvant for vaccines!
Carrageenan as an adjuvant to enhance peptide-based vaccine potency.

Has anyone done any research into carrageenan? Thoughts? Does anyone avoid products that have it listed as one of the ingredients?
mambera's Avatar mambera
12:55 AM Liked: 109
#2 of 6
07-19-2010 | Posts: 1,297
Joined: Sep 2009
I took a quick look at your first review. They helpfully summarize all the studies in their review in a table. Most of them use degraded carrageenan. The small number that used undegraded carrageenan did not generally have significant neoplastic effects. Also they say the TD50 for a 60-kg individual would be 138.6 g of degraded carrageenan, and that a typical intake would be more like 10 g/d for an individual over 2 y/o.

I have to say that I don't really feel too worried about carrageenan in my diet based on this article. BUT it is an artificial thickener that is used almost exclusively in processed foods, which I try to avoid for a multitude of reasons besides carrageenan.

If you're worried about your DS' exposure why don't you calculate his daily intake from the label on your oat milk? That should help you decide whether you need to cut down.
essnce629's Avatar essnce629 (TS)
01:38 AM Liked: 13
#3 of 6
07-19-2010 | Posts: 476
Joined: Oct 2005
Originally Posted by mambera View Post
If you're worried about your DS' exposure why don't you calculate his daily intake from the label on your oat milk? That should help you decide whether you need to cut down.
How would I do that? It just lists carrageenan in the ingredient list, it doesn't say how many grams it has or anything. He doesn't drink massive amounts of oat milk-- probably about 4oz a day. And he eats cottage cheese several times a week.
jeannesavage's Avatar jeannesavage
06:14 PM Liked: 0
#4 of 6
05-22-2014 | Posts: 1
Joined: May 2014

Have avoided the "thickener" for some time. How it is processed is not clear. Read a confusing explanation which included the phrase "It is safe." This tells me to watch out. Trader Joe's almond milk has it, so I buy Silk in liquid form at my local supermarket. What really annoys me is that MSG may be in it, but the government does not require food corporations to list this ingredient. Not incidentally, one of the guys at Joe's tells me that all those almond milk brands they carry are made by the same corporation.

Sativarain1's Avatar Sativarain1
02:04 PM Liked: 2053
#5 of 6
05-23-2014 | Posts: 1,865
Joined: Feb 2003


Thanks for sharing the book title, sounds interesting.

sillysapling's Avatar sillysapling
10:34 PM Liked: 3038
#6 of 6
05-28-2014 | Posts: 809
Joined: Mar 2013

I've also read that it's a problem, whether or not it is I do try to avoid it. I'm pretty sure it's one of the many things that I can't eat because those breakfast shakes and milks that have it in it leave a bad taste in my mouth and aren't nice to my stomach, and that's the only ingredient that should be doing that. I agree with being frustrated when it's in the milk boxes- I actually would like to try hemp milk, but I'm not touching anything with carageenan in it and neither is my kid (at least until he's old enough to make the decision himself)


They put this in ready-to-feed baby formula, which is suggested for preemies/babies with immune problems who need formula because it's sterile. That I consider to be really messed up- because I imagine that when it's in your sole source of nutrition, and in such little (and especially vulnerable) babies, it's very easy to get enough to cause problems. And I have a really hard time believing it's safe when it's banned from infant formulas in Europe. They really need to start holding formula companies more responsible and make sure they produce a product that's actually decent. While I definitely appreciate the emphasis on breastfeeding and don't think that we should cut support for it at all, the fact is that there are babies who are going to be formula fed for numerous reasons, I wish more people were working to make it so that the formula was the best product possible. The companies sure as heck aren't.

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