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Silica used in foods, cosmetics and drugs harm cells, DNA

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Saturday Feb 27, 2016 (foodconsumer.org) -- Like some other nanoparticles, silica or silicon dioxide is widely used in processed foods, costmetic products and nanomedicines.   A new study suggests this material is genotoxic and can mess up with your genetic material DNA, and can cause genomic instability.

For the study, Chinese researchers developed a method to assess the cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of nanoparticles and validated the method using a system with mesoporous silica nanoparticles.

The researchers found both sphere-and rod-shaped mesoporous silica nanoparticles were cytotoxic and genotoxic. Like other types of nanoparticles, mesoporous silica nanoparticles are able to induce oxidative stress leading to a large number of mitotic chromosomal aberrations.

The rod-shaped silica nanoparticles were more harmful than the sphere-shaped silica nanoparticles.  The cells with low capability of repairing DNA damages were found more vulnerable to the detrimental effect.

This is not the first study to show nanopartiles used commonly in processed foods, cosmetics and drugs can damage the DNA and potentially increase the risk for a variety of cancers.

In foods, silica nanoparticles are commonly used as a dispersing agent to make food powders more flow-able or whitening agent to render white color.  Numerous food products are treated with silica or titanium dioxide. (David Liu)

Niu, Meng; Zhong, Hongshan; Shao, Haibo; Hong, Duo; Ma, Tengchuang; Xu, Ke; Chen, Xiaowei; Han, Jinhang; Sun, Jun, Shape-Dependent Genotoxicity of Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles and Cellular Mechanisms, Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Volume 16, Number 3, March 2016, pp. 2313-2318(6)

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