Surprising Twist – Aloe vera a Carcinogen?!

( – Aspartame and aloe vera are both on the World Health Organization’s list of potentially cancer-causing substances. Gum, soda, diet drink mixes, and reduced sugar syrups all contain Aspartame, which was approved for consumption in 1981. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported headaches, dizziness, mood changes, and gastrointestinal issues due to aspartame consumption in 1984. The reports were considered anecdotal and not supported by science.

More surprising on the recent list, along with lead, Aspartame, welding fumes, and engine exhaust, is aloe vera.

In ancient Egypt, Aloe vera was famously known as the “plant of immortality.” It has been used in Roman and Greek cultures for centuries and contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants, plus it offers antibacterial properties. Aloe is commonly used to heal wounds, especially burns.

Topical aloe vera may help soften skin, and by taking it internally, aloe helps with digestive issues such as constipation and heartburn. It’s found in a wide variety of personal care products, including soaps and shampoos, and sometimes even in food, such as sushi.

There is recent evidence that suggests consuming certain parts of aloe vera may be toxic. The yellow sap found inside the leaves of the plant, aloe vera latex, is where the toxicity comes in. Researchers studying the plant fed rats water infused with a variety of aloe whole-leaf extract for two years. High levels of the extract caused rare intestinal tumors in some rats, but the lower-level concentrate did not.

The World Health Organization proposed a ban on specific aloe vera extracts in 2019 due to their harmful anthraquinones, an organic compound found in certain plants. Used as dyes and pigments, anthraquinones are also used for medicinal purposes such as relief from constipation, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and cancer. The primary site of anthraquinones absorption is the intestines.

According to a 2017 Science Direct article, anthraquinones, despite their diverse applications, have been found to be toxic to animals. Little information is available on their long-term impact on human health.

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