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bibliography*The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Sweis 2018.

Potential role of the common food additive manufactured citric acid in eliciting significant inflammatory reactions contributing to serious disease states: A series of four case reports


Tags: nutrition, inflam-sys, self-treatment, treatment

PainSci summary of Sweis 2018?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★☆☆☆?2-star ratings are for studies with flaws, bias, and/or conflict of interest; published in lesser journals. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

Citric acid is a natural substance in fruits and vegetables, but manufactured citric acid (MCA), a ubiquitous food additive. MCA is made from the fungus Aspergillus niger, which is a known cause of allergies. MCA is “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA despite a complete lack of safety research. This paper present four cases of patients with symptoms of systemic inflammation following ingegestion of MCA (most likely related to the fungus used to produce it, and not the citric acid itself). They suspect that the MCA was harming these patients. Their observations do not constitute evidence of a risk, but further study may be warranted.

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Citric acid naturally exists in fruits and vegetables. However, it is not the naturally occurring citric acid, but the manufactured citric acid (MCA) that is used extensively as a food and beverage additive. Approximately 99% of the world's production of MCA is carried out using the fungus Aspergillus niger since 1919. Aspergilus niger is a known allergen. The FDA placed MCA under the category of GRAS without any research to substantiate this claim. In 2016, 2.3 million tons of MCA were produced, predominantly in China, and approximately 70% is used as a food or beverage additive. There have been no scientific studies performed to evaluate the safety of MCA when ingested in substantial amounts and with chronic exposure. We present four case reports of patients with a history of significant and repetitive inflammatory reactions including respiratory symptoms, joint pain, irritable bowel symptoms, muscular pain and enervation following ingestion of foods, beverages or vitamins containing MCA. We believe that ingestion of the MCA may lead to a harmful inflammatory cascade which manifests differently in different individuals based on their genetic predisposition and susceptibility, and that the use of MCA as an additive in consumable products warrants further studies to document its safety.

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