Food Grade Titanium Dioxide linked to Cancer

What this means for you

On January 29, 2017, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on a controlled study out of France. This study has found that nanoparticles of Titanium Dioxide, contained in food and household products, can be linked to the generation of cancer cells. Titanium Dioxide is a product which has been in our food (in minuscule proportions) for decades in Australia so naturally, this claim has caused us some concern. As a result, we have done some of our research and we have found the following:

In 2012 a report from the Arizona State University found that foods which contained the highest concentration of Titanium Dioxide were “candies, sweets and chewing gums”, whilst toothpaste and sunscreen were the two household products likely to contain the highest counts of titanium dioxide. There are also claims that it could also be found in off the shelf white sauce and salad dressing. Some of these products are likely to be consumed or used daily, so what effects do these concentrations of Titanium Dioxide have on our bodies? Well according to the Sydney Morning Herald “exposure to these nanoparticles of Titanium Dioxide has previously been shown to interfere with the immune system and cause cell damage”. Other reports claim that oral exposure may cause non-malignant stage carcinogenesis – which is the first stage of cancer cell development.

In 2016 Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (otherwise known as ‘FSANZ’) released a report stating that there was little to no evidence to support the claims of health risks. Conflictingly a report printed on 4 January 2016 by Nanotechnology Weekly, which details research conducted out of Saudi Arabia on food-grade Titanium Dioxide, has found definite signs of cellular stress. Further, this report claims that the additive “could not only be [a] potential human health risk factor” they also suggest that “safety considerations with special respect to a few crucial factors such as size and shape, should be considered and regulated by food regulators”.

Whilst our regulations in Australia are quite strict in relation to food additives, this is still alarming news. Reports are that at least 4 retailers in France are taking steps to remove Titanium Dioxide from products on their shelves because of this study. Unfortunately, there are no similar reports about Australian retailers. Nor is there any report that our consumer watchdog is taking steps to conduct their own investigations into this additive. So in the meantime, it is up to you to take steps to reduce your exposure to titanium dioxide.

As a dentist, we are always happy to tell you to reduce your intake of confectionery and sweets, so this is our first recommendation. It is also worth noting that these studies were on the ingestion of Titanium Dioxide. Therefore, ensure you do not swallow your gum or toothpaste. Additionally, try purchasing products which are as natural as possible. We do understand how hard this can be, therefore checking what the chemicals are on your packaging is also a good idea. If you are unsure what the scientific numbers and letters mean, we recommend searching them on the Special Chem website.

For more information on the effects of titanium dioxide, please do not hesitate to contact DentalCareXtra. Alternatively, complete the form below, and one of our friendly team members will contact you.


( For your information, Titanium Dioxide is labelled CI 77891 on Colgate toothpaste.