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Patients with intestinal diseases have several times more microplastic particles in their feces compared to healthy individuals
 Nov 29, 2023|View:222

What kind of harm microplastics may cause to health is a topic of great concern. Previously, animal experiments have demonstrated that microplastics can disrupt the endocrine system, leading to birth defects, reducing sperm production, inducing insulin resistance, and impairing learning and memory. In addition, scientists have observed physical signs of damage due to particles puncturing and rubbing against organ walls, such as inflammation.

Microplastics can disrupt the endocrine systemTo further investigate the impact of microplastics on humans, scientists from Harvard University and Rutgers University have constructed an in vitro system simulating the digestive tract. They aim to explore whether microplastic particles interfere with the digestion and absorption of nutrients.

The results indicate that the presence of microplastics has negative health implications for fat absorption. Specifically, when fat is ingested along with microplastic particles, the bioavailability of fat increases, leading to more fat entering the bloodstream (which could be one of the reasons for gaining weight with increased consumption of certain foods). Additionally, the study shows that microplastics can affect the absorption of micronutrients, increase small intestine permeability, and promote the proliferation of certain bacteria.

At the current stage, experiments on the impact of microplastics on human health are limited but revealing. In December 2021, an academic study published in the journal "Environmental Science & Technology Letters" indicated that fecal samples from patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, contained more microplastics compared to a healthy control group. This suggests a potential correlation between these microplastics and the development of the diseases.

The research team collected fecal samples from 50 healthy individuals and 52 IBD patients from different regions. The analysis revealed that the concentration of microplastic particles in the feces of IBD patients was 1.5 times higher than that in the feces of healthy participants. The higher the concentration of microplastics in the patients' bodies, the more pronounced the symptoms of disease-related diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and abdominal cramping.

Microplastic particles in the feces of IBD patients.


The specific results are as follows:

①The concentration of microplastics in the feces of IBD patients and healthy individuals was 41.8 and 28.0 particles/g dry matter, respectively. The concentration of microplastic particles per gram of feces in IBD patients was approximately 1.5 times higher than in healthy individuals.

②The study detected a total of 15 types of microplastics, with PET (used in bottles and food containers) and PA (polyamide; used in food packaging and textiles) being predominant. The primary forms observed were sheets and fibers.

③Through a questionnaire survey, researchers found that patients who drank bottled water, consumed takeout food, and were frequently exposed to dust had higher levels of microplastics in their feces.

Concentration of microplastics in the feces of IBD patients.

The study, for the first time, indicates a significant difference in the concentration of microplastics (MPs) in the feces of IBD patients compared to healthy individuals, with the levels of microplastics in the feces of IBD patients being significantly higher than those in healthy individuals. This finding serves as a reminder that the potential impact of microplastics on human health may be substantial and should not be underestimated.

However, there is still a significant unknown regarding whether "microplastics" pose a major risk to human health. There is an urgent need for further exploration in relevant academic fields to address these unknown risks.

As is well known, plastic degrades very slowly, often taking hundreds or even thousands of years. This increases the likelihood of microplastics being ingested and accumulating in many organisms and tissues. In order to prevent the internal organs of humans from turning into "plastic products," the simplest solution is to minimize the use of plastic products in daily life and promptly address plastic pollution. Let's not regret when the Earth is "invaded" by plastic; take action now.