IBD and microplastics: What is the link?

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A new study looks for the links between microplastics and IBD. CasarsaGuru/Getty Images
  • People are exposed to microplastics throughout their lives.
  • Scientists are still unsure about the health effects of this exposure.
  • In a recent small study, researchers found that people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) had more microplastics in their stool compared to people without IBD.

In a new, small-scale study, researchers have found an association between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and greater amounts of microplastics in stool. The results appear in the journal Environmental science and technology.

However, the study does not prove that microplastics Wave Ibid. Confirming the results and then determining the explanation for the association requires further investigation.

IBD is an umbrella term that includes a group of conditions characterized by inflammation of the digestive system. the two most popular The types are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

A person with IBD may experience diarrhea, rectal bleeding, weight loss, abdominal pain, and fatigue.

Researchers are still not sure of the causes, but they believe that IBD develops when a person genetically predisposed to this type of disease is exposed to a specific trigger. Understanding the scale of the role played by environmental stimuli requires further research.

In the new study, the researchers wanted to know if there was a link between microplastics and IBD. People are exposed to microplastics throughout their lives, although the effects on health are not yet clear.

Maria Neira, Director of Public Health, Environment and Social Determinants of Health at the World Health Organization (WHO), Says That “we urgently need to learn more about the health impact of microplastics because they are everywhere – including in our drinking water.”

“Based on the limited information we have, microplastics in drinking water do not appear to pose a health risk at current levels. But we need to know more. We also need to stop the rise in plastic pollution worldwide.”

Dr. Yan Zhang is the corresponding author of the current study. He works at the State Key Laboratory for Pollution Control and Resource Reuse at the School of Environment at Nanjing University in China, and previously found that in animal models, microplastics accumulate in the liver, kidneys and intestines.

It was also found that this accumulation was strongly dependent on the size of the microplastic particles.

The researcher explained to Medical news today That “compelling evidence shows that microplastics accumulate mainly in the intestines of different species and cause intestinal inflammation and metabolic disturbance. Human exposure to microplastics is inevitable.”

“To assess the health risks of microplastics, estimating the levels of exposure and burdens of microplastics on humans is critical. However, to date, there are no accurate data on the burdens of microplastics on humans. Furthermore, the actual health risks from exposure to plastics have long been Flour is a common concern.”

Since people are typically exposed to microplastics through the gut, the team wanted to understand if there was any relationship between microplastics and IBD.

To do this, they looked at study participants’ stool samples. The researchers recruited 52 people with IBD and 50 people without IBD who were otherwise healthy.

Participants filled out a questionnaire about the foods and beverages they consumed, their working and living conditions during the previous year, their inflammatory bowel disease status, and their demographic characteristics.

The scientists then analyzed stool samples to determine the amount and type of microplastics present.

They found that participants with IBD had more microplastics in their stools than the healthy group.

Further analysis showed that the severity of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease correlate with the amounts of microplastics.

Additionally, the team noted that people who had more microplastics in their stool samples tended to drink more bottled water, eat more prepared foods, or have more exposure to dust where they live or work.

For the first time, this study reveals a significant difference in the concentration of microplastics in stool in IBD patients and healthy subjects. Our study also indicates that the properties of fecal microplastics are useful for estimating intestinal exposure to microplastics. ”

– Dr. Yan Chang

However, the researcher cautioned against concluding that microplastics cause IBD.

“It is difficult to say that microplastics contribute to the pathogenesis of IBD, because IBD is a very complex systemic disease, and its cause is unclear. We prefer to believe that people with IBD are more likely to retain microplastics.”

Also, the study was limited – first of all, its small size. Scientists need to do much larger studies before they can draw more solid conclusions.

As the study authors note, “Focus [microplastics] In the stool detected in this study, the concentration of [microplastics] in the digestive system or in the human body.”

In other words, although people with IBD may excrete more microplastics, this does not mean that they have more in their bodies.

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