BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) is an organic compound that is chemically derived from phenol. You may wonder: is BHT bad for you?
Is BHT Bad For You?
One reason that BHT is bad for you is because of how often it is found as an additive in processed foods. It is used as a preservative to help maintain freshness, color, and taste.
Some foods in which BHT is often found include:
- Snack foods
- Pet food
Get in the habit of reading labels and ingredient lists of food products, and try to cut down on additive chemicals (such as BHT) as much as you can. Making the effort to eat more fresh and homecooked foods will automatically reduce the amount of preservative and additive chemicals you are ingesting, simply because these chemicals are found predominantly in processed foods.
Other consumer products in which BHT is found include:
Health Effects of BHT in Food
BHT can build up in the body because its metabolic extraction is unable to remove the chemical. This makes BHT readily able to create a compound effect on the health and well-being of the body’s vital systems.
Potential short-term side effects of BHT include inflammation and allergies. Long-term effects of BHT buildup in the body might include:
- Fetal cell toxicity
- Endocrine disruption
- Several kinds of cancer
- Cell mutation
- Liver lesions
- Biochemical changes
- Tumor production
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the United States considers BHT to be safe in the amounts it’s used in the food industry. It is also allowed in most of Europe. However, Australia, Sweden, Romania, and Japan no longer allow it.
There have been studies indicating that there could be a link between BHT consumption and the development of behavioral issues in children, asthma, and cancer.
There also seems to be a link between BHT consumption and the development of hormonal disruption in fetuses. This is especially the case with regard to the testes and thyroid.
Other studies using mice and rats have indicated that BHT might accumulate in the body. Such build-up could be linked to the development of tumors, liver damage, and bladder and stomach cancer.
BHT in Cosmetics and Skincare Products
BHT is often used in makeup and skincare, as an additive. It is believed that BHT does not have any significant effect when it is applied topically (in the tiny amounts in which it is found in cosmetics and skincare products).
This is because it absorbs only very slowly into the skin or just remains on the surface. It does not create photosensitization, sensitization, or skin irritation. BHT is deemed safe in cosmetics and skincare, as it is present in very tiny amounts.
Neurotoxicity is a condition involving damage to the peripheral nervous system and brain. It is a result of exposure to certain toxic substances, both man-made and natural.
Certain toxins are able to create alterations in the nervous system’s activity that can both disrupt and/or kill nerves. Nerves are necessary for information transmission and processing in the brain and other nervous system centers.
Neurons generally are most vulnerable as a result of exposure to neurotoxins. This is because of their relatively high rate of metabolism. The cells also at high risk include astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, capillary endothelium cells, and microglia.
Examples of substances that can lead to neurotoxicity include:
- Cleaning and industrial solvents
- Specific food additives and foods
- Lead, mercury, and other heavy metals
- Drugs of abuse or drug therapies
- Chemotherapy drugs (as they are utilized to kill cells that grow quickly)
Unfortunately, there are many neurotoxic substances pervasive in our general environment. Because they are so pervasive, many of us are exposed without realizing it. These include:
- Car exhaust
Symptoms of neurotoxicity can include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Weakness or paralysis in limbs
- Loss of circulation
- Behavioral problems
- Vision loss
- Compulsive behavior and/or obsessive behavior that is uncontrollable
- Loss of cognitive function or memory
It is believed that other conditions can develop because of neurotoxicity. These can include:
- Chronic sinusitis
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Endocrine disruption and the hormone imbalances that result can lead to problems such as:
- Neurological problems
- Sleep disorders
- Neurological problems
- Developmental problems
- Weakened immune system
- Cardiovascular disease
- Reproductive problems (for example, infertility)
With chronic sinusitis, the sinuses (cavities around the nasal passages) are swollen and inflamed for a prolonged period (minimum of 12 weeks). Chronic sinusitis interferes with the proper damage of the sinuses, and therefore causes buildup of mucus. It can make it difficult to breathe through your nose. There might be a feeling of swelling in areas of your face an around your eyes. There might be tenderness or pain.
Chronic sinusitis can be caused by a number of different conditions, such as growths in the sinuses or an infection. Some of the symptoms of sinusitis can include:
- Weakened sense of smell and taste (especially in adults) or cough (in children)
- Swelling, tenderness, or pain in the forehead, nose, cheeks, or eyes
- Nasal congestion or obstruction, and probably difficulty in breathing through the nose
- Discolored and thick discharge in drainage down the back of the throat (postnasal drainage) and from the nose.
Additional symptoms of chronic sinusitis can include:
- Irritability or fatigue
- Bad breath
- Sore throat
- Cough (especially at night)
- Aching (in the teeth and upper jaw)
- Ear pain
To have a “lesion” means to have a tissue abnormality. When doctors detect an abnormal area of the liver through imaging, they refer to it as a liver lesion. MRI scans, CT scans, or ultrasounds are usually needed to see these lesions.
Liver lesions can be several different types, and can vary from harmless (such as certain kinds of cysts) to deadly (cancer, for example).
“What Is BHT And Why You Should Avoid It” thegoodhuman.com/what-is-bht-butylated-hydroxytoluene-and-why-you-should-avoid-it/
“Two preservatives to avoid” http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food-safety/article/two-preservatives-avoid
“What is Neurotoxicity?” https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Neurotoxicity.aspx
“How Endocrine Disruptors are Messing You Up”, https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-13903/how-endocrine-disruptors-are-messing-you-up-9-things-you-can-do.html
“Chronic sinusitis”, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-sinusitis/home/ovc-20211159
“What are liver lesions?” http://answers.webmd.com/answers/1198025/what-are-liver-lesions