By: Prof. Nand Lal, Dean, Faculty of Life Sciences & Former Pro-Vice Chancellor C.S.J.M.Kanpur University
Chewing gum is easily one of the most toxic products available, and it is difficult to ever know exactly what it contains due to vague terms such as “gum base” and “artificial flavours”.
KANPUR: People do not typically ingest Chewing Gum and pay very little attention to its ingredients assuming that if the gum is not swallowed, then the ingredients should not be a concern. However, the ingredients in gum travel into the blood stream faster and in higher concentrations than food ingredients, as these are absorbed directly through the walls of the mouth.
Gum is typically the most toxic product in supermarkets intended for internal use, and it is likely to kill any pet that eats it. Commercial gum products contain roughly the same list of toxic ingredients, with differing labelling, which is virtually always designed to mislead.
Common Ingredients of Gum are Sorbitol, Gum base, Maltitol, Mannitol, Xylitol, Artificial and natural flavouring, Acacia, Acesulfame potassium, Aspartame, BHT, Calcium casein peptone-calcium Phosphate, Candelilla wax, Sodium stearate and Titanium i.
Titanium dioxide is so cancerous that external skin contact is enough to cause cancer. Some of these ingredients are explained to readers because it is prudent to correct the myth that chewing gum is harmless.
The “Sugar-Free” Sugar Alcohols: Sorbitol, maltitol, xylotol, and mannitol are sugar alcohols made from sugar, and they frequently increase the blood sugar just as much as eating sugar does, upon consumption. However, manufacturers make deceptive “sugar-free” claims about sugar alcohols, since these ingredients are not purely sugar anymore. While such sugar derivatives are technically “sugar-free” when the manipulative word games are employed, they nonetheless remain dangerous for diabetics.
The sugar-alcohol containing gums are also marketed to improve our dental health. The sugar alcohols are even more chemically processed than white sugar and are thus much more foreign to a body by virtue of its artificial nature. These forms of chemical-industry sugars may stimulate even more weight gain and inflammation than regular sugar. These sugar alcohols cause abdominal pains and diarrhoea, whilst aggravating various health conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
The immune system takes a huge hit from exposure to them. The immune suppression that is caused by the heavy consumption of these alcohols in turn causes greater yeast development in the body, which may ironically lead to cavities and allergies.
Gum Base: The phrase “gum base” is used to generalize a list of ingredients that is never actually published. It is the foundation agent of chewing gum. It is too difficult to find exactly what modern “gum base” is made from. Major gum companies repeatedly regurgitate that “Gum base is produced through a blend of raw materials belonging to five classes: 1. Elastomers, act as the key ingredient and provide elasticity 2. Resins act as binders and softeners 3. Plasticizers render the elastomer soft to ensure thorough blending of the gum base 4. Fillers contribute to the overall texture and 5. Anti-oxidants prevent oxidation of the gum base and flavours during shelf life”
Response surveys of various manufacturers confirm that the ingredients of gum base are commercial trade secrets. Nobody tells the full ingredients. For instance, exactly what plasticizer is used? Are people chewing on super-toxic PVC? The plasticizing agents could contain dioxins, and quite frankly, they probably do.
A Chinese company tells that “It is made of several food grade raw materials, which are rubber (food grade), glycerol ester of rosin, paraffin waxes, polyvinyl acetates, talc powder and calcium carbonate”.
Glycerol ester of rosin is made from the stumps of pine trees and used industrially to create fast-drying varnishes. People show severe allergic reactions to it, usually causing a swollen throat that leads to difficulty in breathing. Glycerol ester of rosin is also added to soft drinks below 100 PPM. This safety limitation does not apply to chewing gum.
Talc has been linked to lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and fibrotic pneumoconiosis with just transdermal exposure. Talcum powder once used on small children has now been replaced with corn starch, due to safety concerns. It is too dangerous to touch the skin, but absorbing it straight into the blood stream is apparently acceptable.
Polyvinyl acetate referred to as “Carpenter’s glue” or simply “white glue” is something that children are frequently given to chew on (gum base is in bubble gum too). This ingredient compliments the paraffin wax, which is derived from refined petroleum.
Aspartame is one of the most controversial additives and sits alongside MSG and saccharin in terms of both consumer distrust and poor safety. Its presence in foods has nothing to do with safety. Aspartame has been linked to just about every health condition known, from seizures to brain tumours.
Some epileptic patients have recovered from their condition simply by eliminating this toxin from their diets. It is found in diet foods, diet drinks, and sugar-free products as an alternative to sugar. Aspartame is an excitotoxin, which over-excites the neurons in the brain, until they burn out, causing lowered intelligence and a host of neurological problems. Aspartame causes diabetes, fibromyalgia, lowered IQ, obesity, multiple sclerosis, asthma, insomnia, muscle spasms, and a total of 92 known symptoms.
Acesulfame potassium (acesulfame K) has properties similar to aspartame and believed to be a carcinogen. Studies on animals have shown a correlation between acesulfame potassium and various tumours.
It is not possible to provide information about calcium casein peptone (calcium phosphate). Its only appearance is in Trident gum (the worst brand). It might be a whitening agent. It is important to note that casein is a milk extract linked with the Chinese baby formula poisonings and this ingredient must be trusted at individual’s risk.
BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) is a preservative that has been linked to cancer and banned in the UK and Japan. It is unbelievably sold as a “dietary supplement”, and some people believe that it has anti-viral effects. BHT causes kidney and liver damage. Benjamin Feingold (creator of the Feingold Diet) linked it to hyperactivity in children in the 1970’s.
Natural gum is available, which is made from chicle (Manilkara chicle), a tree native to Central America. There was a time when all chewing gum was made from it, but using it incurs more manufacturing cost. Natural gum can be purchased online or from health food stores.
Chewing gum is easily one of the most toxic products available, and it is difficult to ever know exactly what it contains due to vague terms such as “gum base” and “artificial flavours”. These reflect trade secrets, and the ingredients probably are made of hundreds of other ingredients that they are unwilling to disclose and manufacturers maintain that customers have no right to know.