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Lung cancer and food additives

Research suggests the even people who don't smoke could be at risk of developing lung cancer. The research, published in the January 2009 issue of American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that the disease can be caused by eating a lot of processed foods containing inorganic phosphates, and that dietary changes to avoid these chemical additives may play an important role in lung cancer treatment.

The study was published by the American Thoracic Society, and scientists from Seoul National University concluded that a foods high in inorganic phosphates, which are found in many processed foods, spur the growth of lung cancer. The researchers also suggested the food additive contribute to the development of malignancies in people predisposed to lung cancer.

Lung cancer model mice were studied for four weeks and were randomly assigned to receive a diet of either 0.5 or 1.0% phosphate, a range roughly equivalent to modern human diets. At the end of the four-week period, the lung tissue was analysed to determine the effects of the inorganic phosphates on tumours.

Lead researcher Dr Cho said in a statement to the press:

Our results clearly demonstrated that the diet higher in inorganic phosphates caused an increase in the size of the tumours and stimulated growth of the tumors and our study indicates that increased intake of inorganic phosphates strongly stimulates lung cancer development in mice, and suggests that dietary regulation of inorganic phosphates may be critical for lung cancer treatment as well as prevention.

According to the CDC, lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths worldwide. This study found that high amounts of dietary inorganic phosphates actually stimulated the same cancer triggering pathways that affected the tissue and cells found in lung cancer.

While living organisms need a moderate level of phosphate in their body, the use of inorganic phosphates as a food additive, to increase water retention and improve food texture artificially has soared over the past decade.

Inorganic phosphate is a salt of phosphoric acid, and is found in many processed foods including cheese, beverages and bakery products. The authors note that surveys conducted in several countries indicate that phosphate intake has steadily risen, as the number of foods containing phosphate has increased.

In his press statement, the author of the study concluded: The results of this study suggest that dietary regulation of inorganic phosphates has a place in lung cancer treatment, and our eventual goal is to collect sufficient information to accurately assess the risk of these phosphates.

Details of the research paper:

Jin H, Xu C X, Lim H T, Park S J, Shin J Y, Chung Y S, Park S C , Chang S H, Youn H J, Lee K H, Lee Y S, Ha Y C C, Chae C H, Beck Jr G R, Cho M H. High Dietary Inorganic phosphate Increases Lung Tumorigenesis and Alters Akt Signaling. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care medicine. 2009. Vol 179. pp. 59-68

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