A potential link between microplastics and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been flagged up by a new scientific study, reports Bluewater, a world leader in sustainable water and bottle solutions for homes, businesses and public dispensing.
Researchers at Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China, discovered that people suffering from IBD had more microplastics in their poo than those without the disease, which can cause symptoms ranging from persistent diarrhea to abdominal pain, weight loss, and fatigue.
Bluewater senior research scientist Ahmed Fawzy, Ph.D. (photo below), said this is the first study to report the different concentrations of fecal microplastics between patients and healthy people.
“The study provides yet more alarming evidence of the pervasiveness of microplastics. It is deeply concerning that these non-biodegradable materials that are literally present everywhere are entering and accumulating in our bodies,” Fawzy said.
The researchers noted their findings, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, did not conclusively show that microplastics were causing IBD and said more research was needed to corroborate and develop an explanation for the link.
Nonetheless, the researchers said their study provided “evidence indicating that a positive correlation exists between the concentration of fecal MPs and the severity of IBD”.
The study, carried out by Zehua Yan, Yafei Liu, Ting Zhang, Faming Zhang, Hongqiang Ren, and Yan Zhang at Nanjing Medical University, involved analyzing the fecal samples of 102 people, 52 with IBD and a further 50 who were healthy. According to the health information site Medical News Today, participants were also asked to detail the food and drinks they consumed, their working and living conditions, demographic situation, and the status of their IBD.
The study revealed that those with IBD had considerably more microplastics in their poo than the healthy participants.
The team noted that those who tended to drink more bottled water or ate more takeaway food had the most microplastic particles in their stool.
“We conclude that the plastic packaging of drinking water and food and dust exposure are important sources of human exposure to MPs,” the researchers wrote in their study's abstract.
“The overwhelming evidence is that microplastics are in the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe, so it’s inevitable we are finding the particles in our bodies, which is why we have put ending the need for single-use bottles at the heart of our business mission as an international water company,” said Bluewater founder, CEO, and environmental entrepreneur Bengt Rittri (photo below). “The problem is that we still don’t know what damage the chemicals in the microplastic are doing to our health and wellbeing.”
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