Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cancer: MSG and Cancer

The message
There is evidence that suggests that MSG produced by any method causes or exacerbates cancer(1).  At the same time, there is undeniable evidence that MSG manufactured using acid hydrolysis  always contains carcinogenic mono and dichloro propanols(2-5) and that MSG produced when a Maillard reaction occurs, always contains carcinogenic heterocyclic amines(6).

It is just that simple.  Ingredients/products that contain acid hydrolyzed proteins and ingredients/products that contain reaction flavors contain carcinogens.  Much of the processed food in the United States contains carcinogenic acid hydrolyzed proteins.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been aware of the relationship between MSG and cancer since the early 1990s (4).  The European Union is equally aware(5).    

The background
Truly natural glutamic acid -- as it exists in its unadulterated form in nature -- is an acidic amino acid.  It is found in abundance in both plant and animal protein where it is bound (tied) to other amino acids in chains. 
Manufactured glutamic acid (MSG) is different.  It is produced commercially in manufacturing and/or chemical plants, and/or by fermentation.
There are five basic methods presently used to produce most MSG.  Each of these methods produces glutamic acid that stands alone, i.e, glutamic acid that is no longer tied to other amino acids. Each generates a product of human invention for which it is possible to obtain a patent. 
All processed free glutamic acid (MSG) – no matter how produced -- is neurotoxic (kills brain cells) and is endocrine disrupting (damages the endocrine system) (7-8).  In addition, all processed free glutamic acid (MSG) will cause adverse reactions ranging from feelings of mild discomfort or simple skin rash to such things as irritable bowel, asthma, migraine headache, mood swings, heart irregularities, asthma, seizures, and depression when the amount of MSG ingested exceeds a person's MSG-tolerance level(9).
All processed free glutamic acid (MSG), no matter how produced, is accompanied by unwanted by-products of production referred to as impurities.  Impurities are invariably produced by all methods used for breaking down protein (autolysis, enzymolysis, and acid hydrolysis)(2,6,10-15); by all methods used to produce monosodium glutamate; and by all methods use to produce reaction or processed flavors(6,10).  Only the impurities associated with the MSG produced by acid hydrolysis and the Maillard reaction include cancer-causing substances.

How do we know what we know?   We know from the paper Regulatory status of maillard reactions flavors that Lawrence Lin presented in August 1992 at a meeting of the American Chemical Society(10).  We know from the National Toxicology Program (NTP) of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Review of Toxicological Literature(4).  And we know from the Codex Alimentarius Commission Position Paper on Chloropropanols(5).


[1]. Blaylock R. (ed). Blaylock Wellness Report.  The Great Cancer Lie: It is Preventable and Beatable.  October, 2008.
[2]. Pommer K. New Proteoloytic enzymes for the production of savory ingredients. Cereal Foods World.1995;40(10):745-748.

[3]. Food Chemical News, Dec 2, 1996. p24-25.
[4]. National Toxicology Program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, US Department of Health and Human Services.  Masten  Review of toxicological literature. SA Project Officer. Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, January 2005 accessed 4.21.2011.
[5]. Codex Alimentarius Commission, World Health Organization.  Joint FAO/WHO food standards programme, codex committee on food additives and contaminants, Thirty-third Session,   The Hague, March 12-16, 2001. ( accessed 4/21/2011.
[6]. Food Chemical News, May 31, 1993. p16.
[7]. Olney JW, Ho OL, Rhee V. Brain-damaging potential of protein hydrolysates. N Engl J Med. 1973;289:391-393.

[10]. Lin LJ. Regulatory status of maillard reactions flavors, Washington DC: Division of Food and Color Additives, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration. Paper presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, August 24, 1992.
[11]. Man EH, Bada JL. Dietary D-Amino Acids. Ann Rev Nutr.1987;7:209-225.

[12]. Konno R, Oowada T, Ozaki A, Iida T, Niwa A, Yasumura Y, Mizutani T. Origin of D-alanine present in urine of mutant mice lacking D-amino-acid oxidase activity. Am J Physiol. 1993;265:G699-G703.
[13]. Sjostrom LB. Flavor potentiators. In: Furia TE, CRC Handbook of Food Additives. Cleveland: CRC Press, 1972: 513-521.
[14]. Rundlett KL, Armstrong DW. Evaluation of free D-glutamate in processed foods. Chirality. 1994;6:277-282.

[15]. Food Chemical News, Dec 2, 1996. p24-25.

[16]. Deki M, Echizen A, Temma T. Minor components in monosodium glutamate. Kanzei Chuo Bunsekishoho.1977;17:59-62.


Hydrolyzed Vegetable Proteins: The Full Story. Author: Jack L. Samuels

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