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Silica nanoparticles may cause cardiovascular disease

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By David Liu, PHD

Sunday May 26, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study published in the July 2013 issue of Biomaterials suggests that ingestion of silica nanoparticles which are commonly used in processed foods and dietary supplements can induce cardiovascular disease.

Nanoparticles such as silica or silicon dioxide, which is commonly used in processed foods and dietary supplements, when inhaled, has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen, an agent that causes cancer.  

Many studies have shown that nanoparticles after being ingested travel to vital organs such as the brain, liver and kidney to damage DNA and cause mutations.  One early study of nanoparticles in Zebra fish has found fish exposed to certain levels of nanoparticles for seven days, had DNA fragmented in all tissues studied.

The current study led by J. Duan and colleagues from Capital Medical University in Beijing, China found that silica nanoparticles induced pericardia toxicity and caused bradycardia in zebra fish.

The study also found that "silica nanoparticles could inhibit angiogenesis and disturb the heart formation and development."

The researchers concluded "our results suggest that exposure to silica nanoparticles is a possible risk factor to cardiovascular system."

Previous studies show that ingested nanoparticles induce cytotoxicity and oxidative stress and apoptosis.  Oxidative stress and apoptosis are considered as major risk factors for endothelial cell dysfunctions or cardiovascular disease.

Nanoparticles commonly used in processed foods and dietary supplements include titanium dioxide, silica or silion dioxide and zinc oxide.  The toxicity of nanoparticles has never been adequate tested.

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