Common Food Additives Could Lead to Lung Cancer

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Research indicates that common food additives could lead to lung cancer. Inorganic phosphates are important structural components of the energy-rich compound: Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). This compound contains three phosphate groups bound to adenine, a nitrogen-containing compound. Each phosphate group is composed of four oxygen atoms joined to a phosphorus atom. The two bonds between the phosphate groups are high-energy bonds; the energy is released if a phosphate group is cleaved and released. Inorganic phosphates are almost present in every kind of food that we eat. Low amount of inorganic phosphates in our diet is considered safe but high amount of these compounds is already carcinogenic based on the research findings of Korean scientists.

Dr. Myung- Haing Cho and colleagues published their journal article in the January 2009 edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine. According to the result of their experiment, there was a significant increase in the sizes of tumors found in the lungs of mice that they fed food with inorganic phosphates for four weeks. The amount of phosphates contained in the food is comparable to the typical amount found in human diet, about 0.5 to 1 percent phosphate. Their research demonstrates the ability of inorganic phosphates to stimulate the development of lung cancer in rodents. Because we have many biological and physiological similarities to the mice, it is likely that the phosphates do the same thing in our lung tissues.

Inorganic phosphates are found in high amount in some processed foods that we eat such as bacon, sausages, hams, cheeses, and bakery products. They are also found in the beverages that we drink.

Over the past decades, inorganic phosphates have been widely used as a food additive because they give our food higher ability to retain water and maintain good texture. It is very “unfortunate” that most of the foods we say “delicious” (at least for the children) are those with high phosphate content such as processed meat products (e.g. ham and sausages). The more we eat these kinds of food, the more inorganic phosphates we ingest, and the higher is our risk to develop lung cancer.

Minimizing our consumption of food with high amount of preservatives like inorganic phosphates could help us in the prevention of lung cancer. For lung cancer and with any type of cancer (e.g. breast cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, etc.), prevention involves eating the right food – those that don’t contain carcinogenic compounds but still provide essential minerals and vitamins as well as energy for work.


“Food Additive Used In Processed Food Might Increase Cancer risk” Retrieved from January 24, 2009.

“Additives used in bacon, ham and chicken could make cancers grow” Retrieved from January 24, 2009.