Some science behind the scenes

Polysorbate 80

Polysorbate 80 is a nonionic surfactant and emulsifier often used in foods and cosmetics. This synthetic compound is a viscous, water-soluble yellow liquid.  Its E number: E433  The full chemical names for polysorbate 80 are:

  • Polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monooleate
  • (x)-sorbitan mono-9-octadecenoate poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl)


Brand names include:

  • Alkest TW 80
  • Scattics
  • Canarcel
  • Poegasorb 80
  • Montanox 80 – Montanox is a registered trademark of Seppic, France
  • Tween 80 – Tween is a registered trademark of Croda Americas, Inc


Uses

Polysorbate 80 is found in a vast array of foods and is even used in medicines and many vaccines.  Polysorbate 80 is used as an emulsifier in foods.

Food

Polysorbate 80 supposedly makes products look and taste ‘creamier’, bulks foods up, and acts as a binder for ice creams and puddings. Additionally, polysorbate-80 helps dissolve ingredients so they can more easily blend together. Look for polysorbate-80 in chewing gum, ice cream, gelatin, and shortening.  It is also used as a defoamer for the fermenting process of some wines, and keep sauces smooth, so this has a wide number of uses of which we may be totally unaware.

For example, in ice cream, polysorbate is added up to 0.5% (v/v) concentration to make the ice cream smoother and easier to handle, as well as increasing its resistance to melting. Adding this substance prevents milk proteins from completely coating the fat droplets. This allows them to join together in chains and nets, which hold air in the mixture, and provide a firmer texture that holds its shape as the ice cream melts.

Soaps and cosmetics

Polysorbate 80 is used as a surfactant in soaps and cosmetics (including eyedrops), or a solubilizer such as in a mouthwash. The cosmetic grade of polysorbate 80 may have more impurities than the food grade.

Medicines and vaccines

Polysorbate 80 is used to improve the consistency of gel capsules and to make pills disperse in the stomach.  It is used as an ingredient in some vaccines, as well as in some vitamins and supplements.

Medicines - Polysorbate 80 is used to stabilize aqueous formulations of medications for parenteral administration.  It is used as an emulsifier in the manufacture of the antiarrhythmic amiodarone.  It is also used as an emulsifier in the estrogen-regulating drug Estrasorb

Vaccines -  Polysorbate 80  is used as an excipient in a large number of vaccines.  The following chart was obtained from Wikipedia and may, by the time you read this, be out of date.   It does, however, provide you with an indication of the common vaccines and the excipients they contain, as published by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration. Vaccine ingredients and production in other nations are substantially the same. Also listed are substances used in the manufacturing process.

Vaccine, Culture media, Excipients

  • DTaP (Infanrix), Cohen-Wheeler or Stainer-Scholte media, Lathan medium derived from bovine casein, Linggoud-Fenton medium derived from bovine extract, synthetic or semisynthetic;
    Aluminum hydroxide, bovine extract, formaldehyde, glutaraldhyde, polysorbate 80
  • DTaP (Tripedia), Cohen-Wheeler or Stainer-Scholte media, synthetic or semisynthetic;
    Aluminum potassium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, bovine extract, formaldehyde, gelatin, peptone, polysorbate 80, sodium phosphate, thimerosal
  • DTaP/Hib (TriHIBit), Synthetic or semisynthetic; Aluminum potassium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, bovine extract, formaldehyde or formalin, gelatin, polysorbate 80, sucrose, thimerosal
  • DTaP-IPV (KINRIX), Vero (monkey kidney) cell culture, synthetic or semisynthetic; Aluminum hydroxide, calf serum, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, lactalbumin hydrolysate, neomycin sulfate, polymyxin B, polysorbate 80
  • DTaP-HepB-IPV (Pediarix); Bovine protein, Lathan medium derived from bovine casein, Linggoud-Fenton medium derived from bovine extract, Vero (monkey kidney) cell culture, synthetic or semisynthetic; Aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate, calf serum, lactalbumin hydrolysate, formaldehyde, glutaraldhyde, neomycin sulfate, polymyxin B, polysorbate 80, yeast protein
  • DtaP-IPV/Hib (Pentacel), Synthetic or semisynthetic; Aluminum phosphate, bovine serum albumin, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, MRC-5 cellular protein, neomycin, polymyxin B sulfate, polysorbate 80, 2-phenoxyethanol
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) (Gardasil), Yeast or yeast extract; Amino acids, amorphous aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate, carbohydrates, L-histidine, mineral salts, polysorbate 80, sodium borate, vitamins, yeast protein
  • Influenza vaccine (Agriflu), Chicken embryo; Egg proteins, formaldehyde, polysorbate 80, cetyltrimethylammonium bromide, neomycin sulfate, kanamycin
  • Influenza vaccine (Fluad), Chicken embryo; Squalene, polysorbate 80, sorbitan trioleate, sodium citrate dehydrate, citric acid monohydrate, neomycin, kanamycin, barium, egg proteins, CTAB(cetyltrimethylammonium bromide), formaldehyde
  • Influenza vaccine (Fluarix), Chicken embryo; Formaldehyde, octoxynol-10 (Triton X-100), α-tocopheryl hydrogen succinate, polysorbate 80 (Tween 80), hydrocortisone, gentamicin sulfate, ovalbumin, sodium deoxycholate, sucrose, phosphate buffer
  • Influenza vaccine (Flucelvax), Madin Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cell protein; Madin Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cell protein, MDCK cell DNA, polysorbate 80, cetyltrimethlyammonium bromide, β-propiolactone, phosphate buffer
  • Influenza vaccine (Flulaval), Chicken embryo;Formaldehyde, á-tocopheryl hydrogen succinate, polysorbate 80, sodium deoxycholate, thimerosal, ovalbumin
  • Japanese encephalitis vaccine (JE-Vax), Mouse brain culture; Formaldehyde or formalin, gelatin, mouse serum protein, polysorbate 80, thimerosal
  • Pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar), Soy peptone broth; Aluminum phosphate, ammonium sulfate, casamino acid, polysorbate 80, succinate buffer, yeast
  • Rotavirus vaccine (RotaTeq), Vero (monkey kidney) cell culture; fetal bovine serum, sodium citrate, sodium phosphate monobasic monohydrate, sodium hydroxide, sucrose, polysorbate 80
  • Tdap vaccine (Boostrix), Fenton media with bovine casein, Lathan medium derived from bovine casein, Linggoud-Fenton medium derived from bovine extract, Stainer-Scholte liquid medium, synthetic or semisynthetic; Aluminum hydroxide, bovine extract, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, polysorbate 80
     

Side effects

Research suggests that polysorbate 80 may increase the susceptibility of cells to oxidative stress and decrease the cellular content of glutathione [PMID: 15590117], making it a potentially toxic product.  The simultaneous application of ZnCl accelerates the process of cell death induced by polysorbate 80 and the combination increases oxidative stress. [PMID:  20079827]

Asthma, allergy and anaphylaxis

According to Drugs.com, “difficulty breathing” is one of the known side effects of Polysorbate 80.  Drugs.com says that the following are “common” side effects….

Constipation; cough; diarrhea; dizziness; headache; muscle, joint, back, or stomach pain; nausea or vomiting; pain, swelling, irritation, redness, or bruising at the injection site; unusual tiredness or weakness.                                

 In addition, Drugs.com says that the following are severe side effects of Polysorbate 80 that an individual should seek immediate medical attention for….

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); blurred vision or vision changes; chest pain; confusion; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, sore throat); one-sided weakness; pale skin colour; redness, tenderness, or swelling of the calf; seizures; severe diarrhoea, dizziness, headache, stomach pain, or vomiting; severe or persistent tiredness or weakness; slurred speech; sudden pain or numbness of an arm or leg; sudden shortness of breath; sudden trouble walking or loss of balance; swelling of the arms or legs; vision or speech problems; weight gain.

Polysorbate 80 has caused Anaphylaxis.

Brain damage

Polysorbate-80 modified neurotoxin nanoparticles can transport across the Blood brain barrier and exhibit neurotoxic effects- it causes brain damage.

Intestine damage, IBS, Crohns

 

Perhaps the most damaging effect it has is to destroy the intestinal flora and protection provided by the intestines against pathogens and other toxic substances.  This makes this chemical an extremely serious toxin, as it is via entry of pathogens and toxins via the intestines that extremely series diseases such as cancer, dementia, diabetes, heart disease and so on are caused.

The Dangers of Food Additives & How to Avoid Them Keri Tidwell

According to a recent article in Medical News Today, certain food additives found in processed foods may be responsible for the rise in colorectal cancer rates in the mid-twentieth century. Dietary emulsifiers are the prime culprit. These “detergent-like molecules [are] added to modern processed food” to create a smooth texture that is pleasing to the palate. While they may seem harmless, according to researchers at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, these additives actually alter microbes in the gut, creating “an environment favorable for the development of cancer."

Our bodies have built-in defenses against harmful bacteria, but chemically-created food additives are wreaking havoc. Normally, its mucus covering protects the intestines from the invasion of bad bacteria, but emulsifiers actually appear to carry harmful bacteria across the cells lining the intestines, changing the gut environment. When these changes in the gut microbiota are severe, inflammation can result. That inflammation can lead to Irritable Bowel Disorder (IBD) and even colorectal cancer.

The most common food additives linked to inflammation are polysorbate-80 and carboxymethylcellulose, both emulsifiers



 

References


  • J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol. 2016;26(6):394-396. doi: 10.18176/jiaci.0109.  Anaphylaxis Due to the Excipient Polysorbate 80.  Palacios Castaño MI1, Venturini Díaz M1, Lobera Labairu T1, González Mahave I1, Del Pozo Gil MD1, Blasco Sarramián A1. PMID:  27996954
  • Yao Xue Xue Bao. 2010 Oct;45(10):1312-6.  [Polysorbate-80 modified neurotoxin nanoparticle with its transport and cytotoxicity against blood-brain barrier].  [Article in Chinese]  Zhao YM1, Xia AX, Wei YH, Ruan YP, Li FZ.  PMID: 21348312
  • PLoS One. 2015 Aug 6;10(8):e0134722. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134722. eCollection 2015.  Brain Localization and Neurotoxicity Evaluation of Polysorbate 80-Modified Chitosan Nanoparticles in Rats.  Yuan ZY1, Hu YL1, Gao JQ1.  PMID:  26248340
  • Toxicol Sci. 2014 Jun;139(2):317-27. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfu055. Epub 2014 Mar 27.  Food emulsifier polysorbate 80 increases intestinal absorption of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate in rats.  Lu Y1, Wang YY, Yang N, Zhang D, Zhang FY, Gao HT, Rong WT, Yu SQ, Xu Q.  PMID:  24675089
  • Toxicology. 2005 Feb 1;207(1):7-14.  Polysorbate 80 increases the susceptibility to oxidative stress in rat thymocytes.  Tatsuishi T1, Oyama Y, Iwase K, Yamaguchi JY, Kobayashi M, Nishimura Y, Kanada A, Hirama S.
  • Nutrition. 2016 May;32(5):609-14. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2015.12.036. Epub 2015 Dec 30. A glance at … dietary emulsifiers, the human intestinal mucus and microbiome, and dietary fiber.  Glade MJ1, Meguid MM2.  1  The Nutrition Doctor, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA. Electronic address: the_nutrition_doctor@yahoo.com.   2   Professor Emeritus, Surgery, Neuroscience and Nutrition, Department of Surgery, University Hospital, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, USA.  PMID: 26899163

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