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Research shows that microparticles can cause inflammatory bowel disease

The industry’s insatiable appetite for plastics, for example in food and consumer goods packaging, has not only infected the Earth. Ocean but also our bodies. Because of plastic pollution, there are trillions of pieces of microplastics – that is, pieces of plastic smaller than 5mm – scattered across the planet today. They can be found buried in the soil, floating in the ocean and blowing through the breeze.

And for those with stomach issues, know this: There’s no doubt that microplastics are in your gut. Now, a new study suggests they may also be the source of what makes many of us feel nauseous.

In one posts Published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, scientists from Nanjing University and Nanjing Medical University revealed that people with high levels of microplastics in their stools are more likely to suffer from severe version of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). They suggest that microplastics may contribute to the development of IBD or, conversely, that IBD causes patients to retain microplastics to an abnormal level.

Based on both a survey of IBD patients and the physical characteristics of microplastics found in stool samples, the researchers concluded that human exposure to plastic is potentially unhealthy due to the potential for adverse health effects. interact with dust particles and unknowingly consume plastic packaging on food.

Interestingly, people with IBD seem to have a higher amount of microplastics in their bowel movements. In patients with IBD, microplastics concentrations in their stools averaged 41.8 items per gram per decimeter; for people without IBD, the concentration dropped to just 28 items per gram per decimeter.

The most common shapes of these microplastics are sheets or filaments, and the most common are poly(ethylene terephthalate) – used in food packaging, clothing and engineering plastics – and polyamide, which appears in kitchenware, carpets and textiles.


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Speaking to Salon by email, study co-author Dr Yan Zhang explained that the scientists hope to identify the cause behind the correlations revealed in their study. All they know for sure is that having large amounts of microplastics in your stool means you are more likely to have IBD. Now they want to know if the former causes the latter – and if so, how.

“The mechanism involved is still unclear,” Zhang told Salon. “On the one hand, MPs can contribute to the development of IBD. On the other hand, people with IBD may be exposed to more MPs or retain more MPs in [gastrointestinal tract]. “

Millions of people around the world suffer from IBDs such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease; as of 2015, the annual average estimates put the figure at 11 million people with frequent infections. By definition, IBD involves inflammation of the colon, small intestine, and/or large intestine, and includes symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, severe cramping, cramping, and rectal bleeding. Part of the reason scientists can’t be sure whether microplastics cause or worsen IBD is because so much of the mystery about their exact chemical composition is a mystery.

“Plastics are a byproduct of petrochemical producers,” said Jacqueline Doremus, Assistant Professor of Economics at Cal Poly and environmental policy performance reviewer, told Salon via email in July. “Falling oil and gas demand means manufacturers are betting on plastics. At the same time, more than three-quarters of plastic additives are not disclosed to researchers, the public or regulatory agencies because they are protected as intellectual property or are not properly documented, so we have two forces: strong incentives for a strong industry to increase plastic production and poor understanding about the sometimes toxic additives they use.”

Like other forms of plastic pollution, microplastics are linked to major health problems like immune diseases and cancer. There is also evidence linking plastic pollution to reduced sperm counts in men, leading some scientists to worry that they will eventually cause mass reproductive crisis.

Microplastics and their effects:

https://www.salon.com/2021/12/29/microplastics-irritable-bowel-disease/ Research shows that microparticles can cause inflammatory bowel disease

Caroline Bleakley

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