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Blacklisted: The Truth about Butylated Compounds (BHA & BHT)

Unveiling the Story of Butylated Compounds

Let’s talk about two stealthy chemicals – butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). You’ll find these preservatives lurking in personal care products and even foods. But are they friends or foes? Let’s dive in.

Primary Health Concerns

Endocrine Disruption: BHA is known to disrupt your endocrine system, according to the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption.
Organ-System Trouble: BHA gets a red flag from the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List. It’s known to wreck havoc at the cellular level and could even impact lungs.
Reproductive Toxicity: BHA could cause serious harm in the functionality and the develop,emt of the reproductive system.
Cancer Development: BHA is linked it to stomach tumors as well as intestinal tumors.
Skin Irritation: BHT does not play nice with your respiratory system, decreasing the amount of white blood cells, and increasing your risk of infection, according to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.

Meet the Butylated Duo

BHA: Butylated hydroxy anisole (BHA) is a colorless to light yellow, oily liquid with a mild odor that is often used as a preservative in food and cosmetics. It works by preventing fats from becoming rancid or oxidizing, which can damage the flavor and texture of foods. BHA is also known to resist microbial growth and help preserve flavor.

BHT: Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is a white crystalline solid that has a slightly bitter taste and is often used to prevent spoilage in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. It works by blocking the formation of free radicals, which can damage cells and lead to carcinogenic mutations. BHT is also used as an antioxidant to extend product shelf-life. It is considered safe in small amounts, but it may be linked to some health risks like reproductive and developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, and organ-system toxicity.

 

BHA health risks

It’s important to note that the U.S. National Toxicology Program has classified BHA as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Meaning that there is evidence that BHA could potentially cause cancer in humans. Studies have also linked it to reproductive and developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, and organ-system toxicity, and even cancer. The growth of tumors in stomachs and intestines are particularly higher in those who consume BHA in their foods, than those who do not.

In addition to cancer, BHA has also been associated with skin irritation and allergies. In one study, a group of patients exposed to the chemical experienced skin irritation at levels as low as 0.5 parts per million (ppm). The irritation went away in most cases when exposure was stopped.

  • Reproductive toxicity
  • Developmental Toxicity
  • Endocrine Disruption
  • Organ-system Toxicity
  • Development of Cancer
  • Stomach Tumors
  • Intestine Tumors
  • Skin Irritation

Similar to BHA, there is evidence that links BHT to cancer in humans. A study conducted by the American Cancer Society found that people who consumed foods with high levels of BHT were more likely to develop stomach tumors than those who ate foods with lower levels or no BHT.

BHT Health Risks

BHT is another preservative found in many personal care products and food. It’s linked to reproductive and developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, organ-system toxicity, and skin irritation. One of the most concerning effects is its potential effect on the immune system. Studies have shown that BHT can cause a decrease in white blood cells which can lead to an increased risk of infection.

  • Reproductive toxicity
  • Developmental Toxicity
  • Endocrine Disruption
  • Organ-system Toxicity
  • Skin Irritation
  • Lowers Immune System
  • Decrease in White Blood Cells
  • Increased Risk of Infection
  • Liver Damage
  • Kidney Toxicity

There are also concerns about how BHT breaks down in the environment. In one study, it was found that BHT could break down into potentially hazardous compounds such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. This makes it toxic to aquatic organisms, as well as humans.

 

Where Are They Found?

So what kind of products do BHA and BHT end up in? You’ll find them in beauty products, like lipsticks and moisturizers, as well as processed foods like cereals, snack bars, and even pet food. Even though research suggests that they are safe for humans to consume in small amounts, it’s still best practice to read the labels of all your products and opt for natural alternatives whenever possible.

Skin Products:

BHA and BHT are also used in many skin products, as they help to extend the shelf-life of the product. So it’s important to read labels before purchasing anything for your skincare routine. Natural alternatives are always a better option if available, as this can reduce the risk of exposing yourself to BHA and BHT without compromising your skin health.

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Examples:

  • Lipsticks
  • Moisturizers
  • Sunscreens
  • Shampoos and conditioners
  • Makeup primers and foundations
  • Eye shadows and eyeliners
  • Mascaras
  • Nail polish
  • Body creams and lotions

Brands:

  • L’Oreal
  • Garnier
  • Nivea
  • Neutrogena
  • Estee Lauder
  • Revlon
  • Maybelline
  • Clinique
  • Olay
  • Burt’s Bees
  • Aveeno
  • Cetaphil
  • CoverGirl
  • Biotherm
  • NARS
  • Rimmel London

When it comes to our health and beauty products, it’s important to be aware of the compounds used in them. BHA and BHT are two preservatives that can often be found in our food and cosmetic items. They may carry some potential risks such as endocrine disruption, organ-system toxicity, reproductive decline, and even cancer. Therefore, it is best practice to read labels carefully before purchasing

Is BHA & BHT harmful? Get the truth about these controversial butylated compounds and find out why they are blacklisted. Learn more about the potential health risks and decide for yourself if these ingredients are right for you.

Food Products:

When it comes to processed foods, BHA and BHT can be found in a wide range of products, including cereals, snack bars, and even pet food. To reduce the risk of consuming these preservatives it is best to read labels carefully and opt for natural alternatives whenever possible.

Examples:

  • Processed meats
  • Canned goods
  • Cereals and snack items
  • Pet food
  • Margarine
  • Shortening
  • Fried snacks
  • Sauces and dressings
  • Candies and chewing gum
  • Baked goods
  • Breakfast bars
  • Flavored popcorn and chips

Brands:

  • Kellogg’s
  • General Mills
  • Quaker Oats
  • Kraft Foods
  • Nestle
  • Frito Lay
  • Hershey’s
  • Tyson Foods
  • Unilever
  • Nestle Purina Petcare
  • Pepperidge Farm
  • Pillsbury
  • Ocean Spray
  • Planters
  • Mars Inc.
  • ConAgra Foods
  • Del Monte
  • Sara Lee
  • Heinz Company
  • Unilever Group
  • Campbell Soup Company

With knowledge comes power, and being aware of the ingredients in our foods can help us make healthier decisions. BHA and BHT are two preservatives that are often added to processed food and personal care items, but they come with potential risks. By reading labels carefully and opting for natural alternatives whenever possible, you can reduce the risk of consuming these potentially hazardous compounds. Doing so can help keep you and your family safe! 

 

Who’s at Risk?

Babies & Children: Extra caution is needed for these little ones.
Pregnant Women: It’s wise to steer clear of BHA and BHT.

Who’s not at risk? Our pets, citizens residing in the EU, as well as other countries with stricter regulations than the USA.

 

Regulations

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has limited the use of BHA and BHT to 0.1% of the total weight of a food product, as well as 0.4% in cosmetic products.

However, it is important to note that the FDA banned BHA and BHT from use in cat and dog food in 2018 due to its potential health risks. Studies had linked it to reproductive and developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, and organ-system toxicity in animals.

It’s important to note that different countries have stronger regulations when it comes to BHA and BHT, and as a result, they refuse to tolerate these ingredients in any of their products. For example, the European Union (EU) has banned the use of both compounds in all products,  just as they have with several other food ingredients still allowed in the US.

 

What’s the Plan?

Avoid Them: Read labels and skip products with BHA or BHT. It’s like dodging hidden pitfalls.

Given the potential risks associated with them both, your best bet is to avoid products containing BHA and BHT when possible.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that both BHA and BHT can react with other ingredients – a process called synergism. This means that they may become more or less toxic as a result of their interactions with other compounds. That’s why it’s important to be aware of what goes into your favorite products.

 

Reactions to Other Common Ingredients

BHA and BHT can react with common ingredients found in beauty and food products.

When BHA and BHT are combined with these ingredients, there is a higher potential for oxidative damage to the cells. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to what goes into your favorite products and opt for natural alternatives when possible.

Vitamin E
In one study, researchers studied the effects of BHA on Vitamin E, an essential nutrient that helps protect cells from damage. They found that when BHA was added to Vitamin E, it caused a significant decrease in Vitamin E activity. This indicates that BHA can reduce the benefits of Vitamin E, which could lead to an increased risk of cell damage.

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) – worst combination
When BHA is combined with ascorbic acid, it can lead to an increase in free radical formation. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and cause oxidative stress. The combination of BHA and ascorbic acid could potentially cause more cell damage than either compound alone.

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Retinol (Vitamin A)
Studies have shown that when BHA is combined with retinol, it can increase the number of reactive oxygen species in the skin. These molecules are highly unstable and can damage cells. This could potentially lead to premature aging of the skin and an increased risk of cancer.

Carotenoids
In another study, researchers looked at the effects of BHT on carotenoids – compounds found in fruits and vegetables that can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. When BHT was added to carotenoids, it caused a significant decrease in their antioxidant activity. Studies have found that when BHA is combined with carotenoids, it can reduce the antioxidant activity of these compounds. This could potentially lead to an increased risk of oxidative damage and cell death.

 

Reactions with Common Metals

BHA and BHT can also react with common metals like iron, copper, and aluminum. When these compounds are exposed to metal ions, they can form free radicals that can cause oxidative damage to cells. This means that exposure to BHA could potentially lead to increased oxidative damage in the body.

Iron
When BHT or BHA is mixed with iron, it can form a compound called heptachlorophene, which has been linked to cancer.

In one study, researchers looked at the effects of BHA on iron oxide. They found that when BHA was added to iron oxide, it caused a significant increase in the production of free radicals. This means that exposure to BHA could potentially lead to increased oxidative damage in the body.

Copper
When mixed with copper, it can create an even more toxic compound called pentachlorophenol. These compounds are linked to a range of health problems including cancer and reproductive toxicity.

When mixed with chromium, it can form hexachlorophene. Both of these compounds have been linked to reproductiveand developmental toxicity.

Aluminum
When mixed with aluminum, it can create hexachlorobenzene – both of which are classified as probable carcinogens. These compounds are linked to a range of health problems including cancer and reproductive toxicity.

In another study, researchers looked at the effects of BHT on aluminum ions. They found that when BHT was added, it caused an increase in the formation of free radicals. This indicates that BHT can cause oxidative damage, which could lead to serious health problems.

 

Reactions with Preservatives

Additionally, when BHT is mixed with propyl gallate and other preservatives, it can form a compound known as 3-tert-butyl-4-hydroxyanisole (BHAH), which has also been linked to cancer.

The following other preservatives are dangerous to combine with BHA or BHT because they increase the production of free radicals significantly, while decreasing the antioxidant activity of Vitamin E, leading to cellular damage. They are also found to increase risk of cancer and reproductive toxicity.

  • Butylene Glycol
  • Butylene Glycol
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Ethylene glycol
  • Diazolidinyl Urea
  • Diazolidinyl Urea
  • Methylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Diazolidinyl Urea
  • Formaldehyde
  • Methylisothiazolinone
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone

BHA and BHT when in direct sunlight can also form more hazardous byproducts. When exposed to cold temperatures, they can form insoluble substances such as ferrocyanide, a compound that has been linked to cancer as well as ferricyanide that is known to be toxic and carcinogenic. It is important to remember that the sun can break down these compounds faster, making it even more important to avoid products containing BHA or BHT when possible

 

Reactions With Light, Oxygen, Heat & Cold

When BHA or BHT is exposed to any of the natural elements such as sunlight, oxygen, heat or cold, they can form more hazardous byproducts such as:

  • Benzene Derivatives
  • Formaldehyde
  • Acetaldehyde
  • Heptachlorophene
  • 3-tert-butyl-4-hydroxyanisole (BHAH)
  • bisphenol-A derivatives
  • Nitrosamines
  • Toluene
  • Xylene
  • Styrene
  • Benzoates
  • Acetates
  • Formates
  • Ferrocyanide

When BHA or BHT is exposed to light, heat or oxygen, it can break down into potentially toxic compounds when mixed with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as:

  • Soybean Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Cottonseed Oil

This can potentially lead to an increased risk of oxidative damage and cell death. It’s important to note that PUFAs can also break down into these toxic compounds even without the presence of BHA or BHT. Finally, some bacteria are able to metabolize BHA and BHT, meaning that it’s possible for them to form more hazardous compounds in certain conditions. This could further increase the risk of cell damage and oxidative stress.

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It’s important to be aware of these reactions, as they can increase the toxicity of your favorite products. To reduce your risk of exposure, make sure to store products containing BHA and BHT away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Additionally, you should choose natural alternatives whenever possible.

 

Effectiveness

It’s also important to note that BHA and BHT are not always stable in product formulations. In some cases, they can break down into more toxic compounds when mixed with other ingredients. For example, when BHA is combined with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), it can form a compound known as 3-tert-butyl-4-hydroxybenzaldehyde (TBHB). This compound has been linked to cancer in animals.

It’s also important to note that BHA and BHT can be degraded by enzymes. This means that they’re not always as effective at preserving food or cosmetic products, and may need to be replaced with other preservatives in order to maintain their efficacy. Additionally, some bacteria are able to metabolize BHA and BHT, meaning that it’s possible for them to form more hazardous compounds in certain conditions.

Alternative Preservatives

For those who are looking to create recipes that are free of BHA and BHT, there are several plant-based alternatives available. For example, rosemary extracts have been shown to be effective at preserving food, while other natural preservatives such as:

  • Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Honey
  • Sea Salt
  • Essential Oils

Using natural preservatives in your recipes is a great way to ensure that you are avoiding potentially harmful chemicals and providing the highest quality food for yourself and your family. With careful research and thoughtful consideration, everyone can create healthier meals that taste just as good!

It’s also important to be aware that these compounds are often found in processed foods and personal care items, so it is best to read labels carefully and opt for natural alternatives when possible. By being mindful and informed consumers, we can make healthier choices for ourselves and our families.

 

Final Tips:

  • Look for natural alternatives whenever possible to reduce your exposure to BHA and BHT.
  • Read labels carefully and avoid products that contain these preservatives.
  • Make sure you opt for natural pet food with fewer ingredients listed on the label.

It’s also important to remember that even natural alternatives may contain BHA and/or BHT as a preservative, so it is best to read labels carefully before purchasing. By being mindful and informed consumers, we can make healthier choices for ourselves and our families.

 

Conclusion

Overall, it is clear that BHA and BHT are not safe ingredients for consumption and should be avoided whenever possible. The risks associated with their use in beauty and food products are numerous, and it is important to read labels carefully in order to make sure that these preservatives are not present.

Pregnant women should particularly careful of coming in contact with these ingredients, especially consuming these ingredients as BHA and BHT are known to be endocrine-disrupting chemicals. They also can have an impact on unborn babies, leading to developmental issues and even cancer.

Although it may require a bit more research and effort, creating recipes that are free from potentially hazardous compounds is possible with the right combinations of ingredients. With careful consideration and thoughtful planning, everyone can create delicious dishes that taste great, without sacrificing safety!

Using natural alternatives such as essential oils, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, and sea salt can help reduce the risk of exposing yourself to BHA and BHT while still providing delicious meals for your family. By being mindful and informed consumers, we can make healthier choices and take control of our health.

When it comes to skincare, haircare, and toiletries, look no further than the NonTox shop at Dieting Well. We offer a wide range of all-natural, non-toxic products from brands that we have personally tested and trust. Not only are these products safe, but they are also highly effective. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover new products that you prefer over the toxic-filled ones you used before. Take the leap and make the switch today!

 

Further Reading:

 

 

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