Does Carrageenan Cause Cancer?

Out of all the food additives out there, carrageenan is one that involves the longest and rigorous discussions out there regarding its safety and effects. Carrageenan is extracted from red algae or seaweed and is used in food thanks to its ability to enhance food’s thickness or stabilize food structure. Carrageenan has been a part of the food industry for centuries, although the problems arise from the refined and isolated kind of carrageenan. A lot of people worry about the carrageenan cancer that they may have read once or twice in a different online article. But we’re here to clear out a few things with carrageenan. 02

What You Need to Know

As with any of the other food additives out there, carrageenan has varying types which mainly differ in their chemical components. But we’ll talk about the most crucial types: degraded carrageenan and undegraded carrageenan. Though they are different from one another, people still call both ‘carrageenan’ which has caused the majority of the confusion. To lessen the confusion, let’s call the degraded carrageenan by its other name which is poligeenan.carrageenan-hard-to-pronounce-harder-to-digest

Animal Studies

Multiple animal studies have caused the hysteria over carrageenan, of course they look alarming; to think that a food additive used in everyday household items can cause cancerous lesions in the colon, yikes. But once you actually go through the researches that were conducted you’d notice that the majority of these ‘alarming’ researches used poligeenan and not carrageenan; as we said, these two are totally different, the poligeenan was never intended for consumption.

Also, take note that poligeenan has the ability to cause cancer when taken in high concentrations. Bottom line, the carrageenan that we use ad food additive has no clear indication of causing cancer in the animal models.


Unfortunately for the carrageenan, it is largely portrayed as something more harmful than it actually is; even with test and experimentation results the public still cling to the belief that it is the cause of many serious health problems. Since its safety is still well in doubt, there’s nothing wrong with practising care and precaution. Some people would stay away from products that contain carrageenan, but since that’s quite a difficult task others prefer to limit their consumption if possible. If you think about it, too much of anything is harmful to just about anyone; plus, occasional exposure to carrageenan is nothing to fret about.

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