Researchers in China have discovered that irritable bowel syndrome appears to be linked to increased levels of microplastics in the gut. Adults with the condition had 50% more microplastics in their stool than adults without the condition.
This new study is yet further evidence of the harm that microplastics – a form of pollution so ubiquitous that they are now classified as a “force of nature” – can do to humans.
Irritable bowel syndrome: microplastic link
The new study examined samples of feces from 52 people with irritable bowel syndrome (including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) and 50 people without. All of the samples came from different regions of China.
The researchers found that samples from those with IBD contained 1½ times more microplastic particles per gram than the control group.
“The positive correlation between fecal microplastics and IBD status suggests that microplastic exposure may be related to the disease process or that IBD exacerbates the retention of microplastics,” the researchers write.
“Human ingestion of microplastics is inevitable due to the ubiquity of microplastics in various foods and drinking water.”
“Whether the ingestion of microplastics poses a substantial risk to human health is far from understood.”
Although the findings reveal a connection between microplastics and irritable bowel syndrome, it is unclear at present whether microplastics could cause the illness or simple make a pre-existing problem worse
Fifteen different types of plastic were present in the feces of participants, with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyamide being the most common.
PET is part of the polyester family of synthetics. It is used in clothing fibers and coatings for the interior of food and drink containers, among other sources.
Polyamides generally are also found in garments, upholstery, carpeting, rope fibers and fishing nets.
Babies riddled with microplastics: shocking new study
Shocking new research has shown that babies have up to 15 times more microplastic in their bodies than adults.
This worrying new evidence will only add to fears that microplastic pollution has already got totally out of hand and will have serious effects for years to come, even if we begin to introduce measures to curb it right away.
Researchers at the New York University School of Medicine compared stool samples from newborns, infants and adults to ascertain concentrations of two different kinds of plastic in them. All of the subjects were from New York State.
The team were looking for two common kinds of microplastic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polycarbonate (PC).
First of all, they noticed that all of the samples contained at least one of the two types of microplastic they were looking for. This shouldn’t be surprising, given what we already known about the ubiquity of these substances.
The real shock came when they compared the baby samples to those of the adults. In the baby samples, there were at least TEN times as much microplastic. Yes, that’s right: TEN times.
So how could this be happening?
“The plastic packaging of drinking water and food and dust exposure are important sources of human exposure to microplastics,” the authors write in their report.
It is believe that every week humans ingest an a whole credit card’s worth of microplastics, according to the World Wildlife Federation.
This fact alone is likely to shock most readers, but the health effects of this recent addition to our diets are still largely unknown. Research like this new study is beginning to reveal some of these effects, but it’s safe to assume that the full extent could be very bad indeed.
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