Anti-GMO “Natural Society” Links Formaldehyde To Cancer–But Sells Formaldehyde

Recently I wrote about the so-called Natural Society’s hypocrisy in criticizing cellulose as indigestible food filler while at the same time using it in the dietary supplements they sell.  This offense is minor compared to the gaffe they’ve committed in their virulent anti-GMO campaign.

The Natural Society doesn’t like formaldehyde. I mean, they really don’t like formaldehyde.2,3  Ranting about the supposed natural production of this compound by GMO soy, author Christina Sarich terrifies readers with tales of an IARC Group 1 carcinogen skulking in their food, while compatriot Patrick Gallagher warns that even the vapor content is so dangerous it should be avoided.

So:  why is the Natural Society selling formaldehyde to their followers?

Don’t believe me? Let’s visit the Natural Society online store. Here’s a nice 8-ounce jar of Sombra Pain Relieving Gel:

Sombra Pain Relieving Gel from the Natural Society

Sombra Pain Relieving Gel from the Natural Society. (click/enlarge)

 

The list of ingredients seems innocent at first, but I’ve highlighted something interesting:

Sombra ingredients

Sombra contains sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, aka a “formaldehyde releaser.” (click/enlarge)

As Winnie the Pooh is famous for saying: “Oh, bother!”.  Sodium ‘hydromethylglycinate’, the preservative in Natural Society’s Sombra gel, is either accidentally or intentionally misspelled.  We can go to the Sombra web site and confirm it’s actually sodium hydroxymethylglycinate:  a compound known as a “formaldehyde releaser.”

As you might guess from the name, a formaldehyde releaser slowly releases formaldehyde into a product over time.  The purpose is to act as a preservative, deterring the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other undesired “guests.”  Here’s the correctly-spelled ingredient list, courtesy the Sombra web site:11

Sombra's ingrdient list

Natural Society either accidentally or intentionally misspelled one of the ingredients.  Here’s the correct ingredient list, straight from the manufacturer. (click/enlarge)

For a small fee, the Natural Society could have gone through PubMed or PubChem and purchased access to one of the many papers confirming their favored preservative’s role in releasing formaldehyde into the product they’re selling.5,6,7 It cost me just $6.00 and 15 minutes of reading time to learn about sodium hydroxymethylglycinate in “Formaldehyde-releasers in cosmetics: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy”: 5

sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, excerpt from “Formaldehyde-releasers in cosmetics: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy.”5

 

But it gets worse.  Like so many other snake oil peddlers on the internet, Natural Society quotes the non-science-based Environmental Work Group (EWG) at every drop of the hat.8,9  And even EWG pegged the formaldehyde releasing capabilities of sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.10

So where did Natural Society go wrong?  Was it a lack of research?

“After working to find all of the best brands in the industry, we settled on Sombra’s Cool Therapy gel after over an entire year of testing and research.” 4

Whoa.  An entire year of testing and research, and they missed the formaldehyde?

Or did they?

Remember Christina Sarich, the Society writer/formaldehyde-hater we discussed at the beginning of this article?  Here she is again, writing for the Natural Society on  the subject of toxic formaldehyde releasers in skin care products:

“Furthermore, many face and body soaps contain ‘antibiotic cleansers’ like Triclosan. What else? Benzethonium chloride, artificial colorants, BHA, BHT, silicone derived emollients, parabens, and Formaldehyde releasers [DMDM hydantoin diazolidinyl urea, Imidazolidinyl urea Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, N-(Hydroxymethyl) glycine, monosodium salt, and quaternium-15]. YUCK!”12

Holy GMO-free sh*t!  The same author who writes about the dangers of carcinogenic formaldehyde in GMO food also warns about it avoiding in skin care products–then turns around and sells it to you.

And all of this after an entire year of testing and research.  Cojones the size of Texas!  But I weep for the masses who hand their hard-earned money to businesses like this.

I weep.

 

Revision history:  corrected spelling of cojones (10 Dec 2015);

corrected title of reference (6) (12 Dec 2015)

 

 

 

Image Credits
Natural Society, Sombra screen and product snapshots are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, from “Formaldehyde-releasers in cosmetics: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy. Part 1. Characterization, frequency and relevance of sensitization, and frequency of use in cosmetics” 5, used under Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”) with the intent of providing education.

References
(1) Study: GMO Soy Accumulates Cancer-causing Formaldehyde
http://naturalsociety.com/study-gmo-soy-accumulates-cancer-causing-formaldehyde/

(2) New Study: GMO Soy Accumuluates Cancerous Formaldehyde
http://naturalsociety.com/new-study-gmo-soy-accumulates-cancerous-formaldehyde/

(3) Styrene and Formaldehyde Use Causing Health Complications
http://naturalsociety.com/styrene-formaldehyde-use-causing-health-complications/

(4) Sombra Pain Relief Cream on Natural Society Shopping Page
https://shop.naturalsociety.com/product/sombra-cool-therapy-pain-relieving-gel-8-oz

(5) Formaldehyde-releasers in cosmetics: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy. Part 1. Characterization, frequency and relevance of sensitization, and frequency of use in cosmetics.
Contact Dermatitis. 2010 Jan;62(1):2-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.2009.01615.x.
de Groot AC1, White IR, Flyvholm MA, Lensen G, Coenraads PJ.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20136875
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0536.2009.01615.x/abstract  (full text, last accessed 08 Dec 2015)

(6) Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
Dermatitis. 2010 Mar-Apr;21(2):109-10.
Russell K1, Jacob SE.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20233550

(7) Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate: a potential formaldehyde-releasing preservative in child products.
Dermatitis. 2009 Nov-Dec;20(6):347-9.
Jacob SE1, Hsu JW.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19958742

(8) Natural Society Quotes EWG: Toxic Flame Retardants in Baby Products
http://naturalsociety.com/toxic-flame-retardants-found-in-80-of-baby-products/

(9) Natural Society Quotes EWG: Glyphosate Doubles Cancer Risk
http://naturalsociety.com/ewg-monsantos-herbicide-chemical-glyphosate-doubles-cancer-risk/

(10) EWG: Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706077/SODIUM_HYDROXYMETHYLGLYCINATE_(FORMALDEHYDE_RELEASER)/#

(11) Sombra Gel Ingredients (manufacturer website)
http://www.sombrausa.com/cool-therapy

(12) Five Healthier Swaps for Expensive Toxic Skin Care Products
http://naturalsociety.com/5-cheaper-healthier-swaps-expensive-toxic-skin-care-products/

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Carcinogen Poker: Farm Fairy Crafts’ Biodynamic Grapes

My recent post about Farm Fairy Crafts1 upset a few anti-GMO activists who didn’t like me calling out a member of the $39 billion organic industry for selling products that could, by their own standards, be classified as dangerous as the ones they lambaste.

To recap, the kind folks at Farm Fairy Crafts are trying to use the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classification of glyphosate as a Group 2A carcinogen to scare consumers, while at the same time selling a product that contains Group 2B carcinogens.  Apparently, I’ve touched off a game of Carcinogen Poker, with an irate reader pointing out (rather unkindly) that Group 2A “outranks” 2B:

carcinogen poker--what trumps what?

Not everyone reacted kindly to my pointing out the use of “IARC scare tactics.” Spelling and classification errors are not my own. (click/enlarge)

Never mind that Farm Fairy Crafts and their ilk don’t really differentiate between the rankings in their cancerous arguments: simply being classified by the IARC is good enough–or bad enough in this case–for them.  Never mind that the angry scholar who left the above comment fiddles with the IARC definitions to suit her own purposes.  Let’s go ahead and play “Carcinogen Poker” with this incensed reader.  Do you know what outranks Group 2A?  Group 1.

With my best poker face, I say:  “I see your glyphosate, and I raise you a bottle of Farm Fairy Breathe Easy Respiratory Relief Mister.”

farm fairy crafts breathe easy mister

Farm Fairy Crafts Breathe Easy Mister.   (click/enlarge)

The contents of this mist?  Johnny, show us what’s behind door number three: 2

farm fairy crafts breathe easy mister

“Organic biodynamic grape alcohol?” Why not just say “ethanol”? (click/enlarge)

 

“Organic biodynamic grape alcohol”?  Ach du lieber Gott!   Why do the earthy organic types have to invent such fanciful names for common substances?  Let’s call this what it is:  ethanol.  You know… the alcohol you get from fermented grape juice.  Ever heard of wine making?

Do you know where the IARC ranks ethanol in alcoholic beverages?  Group 1: substances known to cause cancer in humans.Oh, I can hear the objections now: “Farm Fairy Crafts isn’t suggesting you drink this carcinogenic mist, they only want you to breathe it.”

Hold your organic horses, cowboy:

Leaving no room for ambiguity, the Farm Fairy Crafts Twitter feed is loaded with tweets showing exactly how this company feels about humans breathing (or otherwise coming into contact with) chemicals that the IARC labels as carcinogenic:

farm fairy crafts tweet

Farm Fairy Crafts doesn’t want you to breathe IARC-listed carcinogens, unless they’re selling them. (click/enlarge)

Oh dear.  Farm Fairy Crafts apparently suggests protective clothing and breathing apparatus are in order when handling Group 2A carcinogens.  Are we to conclude then that we should not be inhaling the “more dangerous” Group 1 carcinogen in their Breathe Easy Mister?  But isn’t a mister designed to help you breathe more easily supposed to be inhaled?  On the Farm Fairy Twitter feed, you’ll find nearly a dozen photographs of workers wearing breathing masks, ostensibly because of the dangers of breathing glyphosate.  Not a word about the hidden carcinogen in their own product.  Welcome to the world of anti-GMO “logic”.

Fear mongering, games like Carcinogen Poker, and “biodynamic grape alcohol”: these are great tools for selling your own products while making those of competitors look dangerous.  But when you turn the rules of woo peddlers against them and examine their own wares under the same virtual microscope, all of a sudden they’re left with the need to wear bio-hazard suits to use their own products.

When pseudoscientists play Carcinogen Poker, they’re usually dealing off the bottom of the deck, and they’re always going to be trumped by logic and science.

 

Image Credits
Farm Fairy Crafts product and tweet snapshots are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

 

References
(1) Farm Fairy Crafts Breathe Easy Respiratory Relief Mister
https://www.etsy.com/listing/242790889/breathe-easy-respiratory-relief-mister?ref=shop_home_active_20

(2) Farm Fairy Crafts Selling Products With Caffeic Acid, a Group 2B carcinogen
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/3583/

(3) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–112
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsGroupOrder.pdf

Food Babe Selling Spicy Carcinogens

“Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme”–Simon & Garfunkel lyrics

 

Woot!  My calendar says it’s Friday, which means it’s time for yet another shopping trip to the FoodBabe.com online store!  These little shopping expeditions have become quite the tradition here at Bad Science Debunked, and  I’m pleased as organic fruit punch to be pumping sales commissions into the pockets of Vani Hari.  Ms. Hari donates a percentage of each and every purchase to help glyphosate-damaged Galapagos Cormorants who, as a result of their Roundup injuries, can no longer fly.  These poor birds must stand in the sun for hours waiting on boats to ferry them from island to island.   Their suffering is heartbreaking. Won’t you come shopping with me and help these flightless wonders?

cormorant in Galapagos

Glyphosate has deprived Galapagos Cormorants the ability to fly.  As a result, they’re subjected to long waits in the hot sun for shipboard transport to move from island to island.  Vani Hari is trying to fund rehab efforts, and your affiliate dollars can help!  (photo by the author.)

Regular readers will forgive me if I remind newcomers of the rules here:  when shopping on Food Babe’s web site, we are very careful to follow Vani Hari’s own safety criteria.  Reminiscent of a carcinogenic episode of Sesame Street, today’s research is brought to you by the letters I-A-R-C, as in the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  This is Food Babe’s “go to” resource when defaming foods that compete with her own products.  For example, Hari lambastes Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte because it contains an IARC Group 2B carcinogen:

“[..] the chemical 4-Mel, which is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and National Toxicity Program”–Vani Hari, on Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte 1 (emphasis mine)

… and she swings the ban hammer on the additive carrageenan because it’s also on the IARC Group 2B list:

“The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Research Council of the United States  have both determined that degraded carrageenan is a carcinogen”–Vani Hari, on carrageenan 2  (emphasis mine)

 

For those of you who like pictures, here’s what “4-Mel” looks like on the IARC list:3

4-mel

OK, enough of the boring science stuff.   Let’s go shopping!  How about some nice spices?  I’ve been in the mood do do some cooking lately.  Thankfully, Vani sells several brands of herbs and spices.  I can salt my bread and help those flightless cormorants at the same time.  But I need some education first… go all “Spice Girl” on me Vani! 4

vani hari spices

Vani Hari sells Simply Organic and Frontier spices via Amazon.com.   (click/enlarge)

Well there we go!  Simply Organic and Frontier spices are rated safe by Food Babe, so I know I can buy them with confidence–and my purchases pepper her pockets with cash (spice pun intended).

There’s only one thing that bothers me:  According to food scientists, quite a few spices contain a compound known as caffeic acid.5,21  Why is that important?  Well, let’s look back at that IARC list of “known carcinogens” touted by Vani Hari: 3

IARC caffeic acid

Well drop my drawers and call me spanky!  Caffeic acid is a Group 2B carcinogen!  Now, to be fair, not all spices and herbs contain caffeic acid.  Unless we catch Food Babe selling a spice such as marjoram,5,7 oregano, 5,8 Ceylan cinnamon,5,14,15 sage,5,17,18,19 rosemary5,9,10,11,12 and/or thyme,5,13 which we know contain caffeic acid, there shouldn’t be a problem.

Well, here’s a Food Babe spice:

Food Babe Simply Organic spices

Herbes de Provence blend, sold by Food Babe contains four (!) spices that contain IARC Group 2B carcinogen caffeic acid6

Oh dear.   Organic Herbes de Provence contains thyme, rosemary, oregano, and marjoram.6  That’s a grand slam of caffeic acid.  Now I’m confused.  Why is Vani Hari telling us to avoid Group 2B carcinogens when they appear in the products she’s selling?

Food Babe Simply Organic Herbes de Provence spice

Simply Organic Herbes de Provence spice blend contains a caffeic acid grand slam: thyme, rosemary, oregano, and marjoram.6 (click/enlarge)

 

Maybe she just made a mistake with the Simply Organic brand?  Let’s have a look at the other brand she’s shilling for selling: Frontier Organic.16   Yum.  I love cinnamon… how about you?

vani hari frontier organics cinnamon (caffeic acid)

Ceylon cinnamon was calculated to contain a mean value of 24.20 mg/100g caffeic acid

Damn my eyes! 24.20mg/100g of caffeic acid in this Food Babe offering.20  Is nothing sacred?

***

Before you rush off and dump your spice collection in the garbage, you should know that caffeic acid has been studied for use as an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory agent, and myriad other beneficial uses.  Keep in mind that throughout this article, we’ve been looking at these products from a Food Babe perspective. It’s easy to misrepresent science to make safe products look scary.  You can actually make quite a good living doing so–it’s the #FoodBabeWay.

In summary, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy Simply Organic or Frontier spices (if not for their inflated prices)… I just wouldn’t be caught dead buying them from Food Babe.

Image Credits
Food Babe, IARC, Simply Organic, and Frontier Spice screen snapshots are used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.
Flightless cormorant in the Galapagos, (c) 2015 Mark Aaron Alsip. All rights reserved.

References
(1) Wake Up And Smell The Chemicals
http://foodbabe.com/2014/09/02/drink-starbucks-wake-up-and-smell-the-chemicals/

(2) Major Company Removing Controversial Ingredient Because of You
http://foodbabe.com/2014/08/19/breaking-major-company-removing-controversial-ingredient-carrageenan-because-of-you/

(3) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–111
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsAlphaOrder.pdf

(4) Are There Harmful Ingredients Lurking In Your Spice Cabinet?
http://foodbabe.com/2013/12/01/are-there-harmful-ingredients-lurking-in-your-spice-cabinet/#more-15560

(5) Phenol Explorer: Caffeic Acid
http://phenol-explorer.eu/contents/polyphenol/457

(6) Simply Organics Herbes de Provence Ingredients
http://www.amazon.com/Simply-Organic-Herbes-Provence-Ounce/dp/B00AJRKITM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447701170&sr=8-1

(7) Contributing article, Mean caffeic acid content of marjoram dried (1.90 mg/100g)
Proestos C., Komaitis M. (2006) Ultrasonically assisted extraction of phenolic compounds from aromatic plants: Comparison with conventional extraction technics. Journal of Food Quality 29:567-582

(8) Contributing article,Mean caffeic acid content of Italian oregano, fresh (10.40 mg/100g)
Zheng W., Wang S.Y. (2001) Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in selected herbs. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 49:5165-5170

(9) Contributing article,Mean caffeic acid content of rosemary (9.67 mg/100g)
Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007 Jun;388(4):881-7. Epub 2007 Apr 28.
Comparison of GC-MS and LC-MS methods for the analysis of antioxidant phenolic acids in herbs.
Kivilompolo M1, Obůrka V, Hyötyläinen T.

(10) Contributing article,Mean caffeic acid content of rosemary (9.67 mg/100g)
Proestos C., Komaitis M. (2006) Ultrasonically assisted extraction of phenolic compounds from aromatic plants: Comparison with conventional extraction technics. Journal of Food Quality 29:567-582

(11) Contributing article, Mean caffeic acid content of rosemary (9.67 mg/100g)
Wang H., Provan G.J., Helliwell K. (2004) Determination of rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid in aromatic herbs by HPLC. Food Chemistry 87:307-311

(12) Contributing article, Mean caffeic acid content of rosemary (9.67 mg/100g)
J Chromatogr A. 2007 Mar 23;1145(1-2):155-64. Epub 2007 Jan 31.
Comprehensive two-dimensional liquid chromatography in analysis of Lamiaceae herbs: characterisation and quantification of antioxidant phenolic acids.
Kivilompolo M1, Hyötyläinen T.

(13) Contributing article, Mean caffeic acid content of thyme (21.28 mg/100g)
Zheng W., Wang S.Y. (2001) Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in selected herbs. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 49:5165-5170

(14) Simply Organics Thyme
http://www.amazon.com/Simply-Organic-Certified-0-78-Ounce-Container/dp/B000WR4LM4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447701731&sr=8-1

(15) Contributing article, Ceylan cinnamon caffeic acid mean content (24.20 mg/100g)
J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Oct 5;53(20):7749-59.
Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents.
Shan B1, Cai YZ, Sun M, Corke H.

(16) Frontier Organics Ceylon Cinnamon
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_19?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=frontier+organic+ceylon+cinnamon&sprefix=frontier+organic+ce%2Caps%2C156

(17) Contributing article, mean caffeic acid content in sage (26.40 mg/100g)
Anal Bioanal Chem. 2007 Jun;388(4):881-7. Epub 2007 Apr 28.
Comparison of GC-MS and LC-MS methods for the analysis of antioxidant phenolic acids in herbs.
Kivilompolo M1, Obůrka V, Hyötyläinen T.

(18) Contributing article, mean caffeic acid content in sage (26.40 mg/100g)
Wang H., Provan G.J., Helliwell K. (2004) Determination of rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid in aromatic herbs by HPLC. Food Chemistry 87:307-311

(19) Contributing article, mean caffeic acid content in sage (26.40 mg/100g)
J Chromatogr A. 2007 Mar 23;1145(1-2):155-64. Epub 2007 Jan 31.
Comprehensive two-dimensional liquid chromatography in analysis of Lamiaceae herbs: characterisation and quantification of antioxidant phenolic acids.
Kivilompolo M1, Hyötyläinen T.

(20) Contributing article, mean caffeic acid content in Ceylon cinnamon
J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Oct 5;53(20):7749-59.
Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents.
Shan B1, Cai YZ, Sun M, Corke H.

(21) International Agency for Research on Cancer: Caffeic Acid
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol56/mono56-8.pdf

 

 

Trick or Tweet: Dr. Mark Hyman Exposed

Social media has long been a bastion of modern-day snake oil salesmen. Twitter, in particular, is a great marketing tool. When it comes to food and product safety, the app’s 140 character message limit provides more than enough room to scare the bejesus out of the public. From there, it’s just a short hop, skip, and jump to the online store of the person making the frightening tweets. The sad fact is that all too often, the products being sold by the so-called expert contain exactly the same ingredients he/she claims to be dangerous.

Eight-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Mark Hyman has mastered this “trick or tweet” technique. Here’s a recent tweet hinting at horrifying side effects from a safe food coloring:1

hyman tweet on caramel color

Dr. Mark Hyman’s tweet on the dangers of caramel color. (click/enlarge)

Caramel coloring has never actually been shown to be dangerous to humans.  But let’s debunk Hyman on a different level.  The doctor apparently makes a comfortable living selling expensive dietary supplements via his web site, drhyman.com.  If you’ve read any of his books or blog posts, you know he’s not shy about pushing these supplements as part of his diet plans.

Let’s drop by the Dr. Hyman online store and do some shopping, keeping in mind his claim that caramel coloring “poses a cancer risk to consumers”:

hyman's caramel color neuromins

Pure Encapsulations “Neuromins” via Dr. Hyman’s store. (click/enlarge)

For only $114 (!) we can pick up a 120 count bottle of “Neuromins”,2 a supplement designed (according to Hyman) to assist in the development of mental and visual functions.  I’m all excited!

But wait…  what’s that I see in the Neuromins ingredient list?3

neuromins ingredients

This supplement, sold by Dr. Hyman, contains the very caramel coloring he tagged “carcinogenic”. (click/enlarge)

Yes, that’s right: caramel coloring.  Didn’t Hyman just claim that caramel coloring was carcinogenic?

Is the caramel coloring in Hyman’s supplements the same coloring found in the soft drinks he falsely and irresponsibly links to cancer?  Why yes.. yes it is!

Caramel coloring levels III and IV are most often featured in carcinogen propaganda campaigns run by pseudoscientists because they’re the ones used in the soft drinks, beer, and pumpkin spice lattes being slandered.  I checked with the manufacturer of Hyman’s supplements, Pure Encapsulations, and they confirmed that the coloring they use is indeed level IV.

Dr. Hyman, if you believe it causes cancer, why are you selling it?

We must pause here and point out that while the health benefits of the product being discussed may be debatable (the claims haven’t been evaluated by the FDA), the safety of the product itself is not being called into question.  As the manufacturer of the coloring points out, the coloring itself does have FDA approval (GRAS–“Generally Recognized As Safe”, CFR Title 21, Section 182.1235).

I sincerely hope no one will punish Pure Encapsulations because of Dr. Hyman’s hypocritical stance on a safe food coloring.  This company was most transparent in answering questions about their product.  No guilt by association, please.

Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed I highlighted two ingredients on the Neuromins label earlier.  Caramel coloring shared center stage with “carrageenan”.  Why is this significant?

Because of another Mark Hyman tweet:4

carrageenan mark hyman

Dr. Hyman celebrates removal of “controversial” ingredient carrageenan. (click/enlarge)

Not content with putting just one foot in his mouth, the doctor effortlessly inserts the other with this tweet.  Here, Hyman congratulates his partner in nonsense, the “Food Babe”, in her claimed role in the removal of the benign thickening agent carrageenan from a company’s product line. (Hyman wrote the foreword to Food Babe’s ill informed book “The Food Babe Way”, championing her work in removing “toxins” such as this from our lives.)

If you haven’t followed the controversy, carrageenan is a safe, commonly used additive that’s gotten a bad rap because of pseudoscience.  Woomeisters confuse carrageenan with degraded carrageenan.  The latter appears on an IARC list of “carcinogenic” items such as pickled vegetables, coffee, talc body powder, a compound found in dandelion tea, and the profession of carpentry.5 (Read: the demonstrated cancer risk to humans is nil.)

Are you scared yet?  Me neither.

But, to summarize, let’s put the question to Dr. Mark Hyman:  if caramel coloring and carrageenan are “carcinogenic” and “controversial”, why the hell are you selling them?  As I pointed out in the first article in this series, this type of hypocrisy is (sadly) all too common with the snake oil aficionados.  The fact that the seller in this case carries the initials “M.D.” by his name makes the offense all the more egregious.

 

References
(1) Mark Hyman Tweet on Caramel Coloring
https://twitter.com/markhymanmd/status/568754599953244160

(2) “Neuromins” on DrHyman.com
http://store.drhyman.com/Store/Show/SearchResults/533/Neuromins-

(3) Pure Encapsulations Neuromins Product Fact Sheet
http://www.pureencapsulations.com/neurominstm.html

(4) Mark Hyman Tweet on Carrageenan
https://twitter.com/markhymanmd/status/502810272294109184

(5) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–112
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsGroupOrder.pdf

Image Credits
Dr. Mark Hyman material, Twitter, and Pure Encapsulations screen snapshots are used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.