Food additives are blamed for a lot of ailments — including rashes, hives, and other allergy-like skin reactions. But a new study finds there is no connection between chronic skin eruptions and additives like dyes, preservatives, emulsifiers, and flavor enhancers, The New York Times
For 10 years, researchers tracked 100 patients who ingested a suspect food and then were monitored for hives or other reactions. The participants had all been suffering from hives and skin irritations with no known cause for six weeks or longer — what doctors call chronic urticaria.
The tests involved 11 additives commonly implicated in allergic reactions, including aspartame, monosodium glutamate, yellow dye No. 6, nitrites, and nitrates.
Forty-three of the patients said they had had allergic reactions to such additives, but in single-blinded tests — in which the doctor knew what substance was being tested but the patient did not — just two patients developed a skin reaction. But neither had a reaction in a subsequent double-blinded test, in which neither doctors nor patients knew what substance was being tested.
No other patients had responses to any of the additives, and there were no other symptoms, according to the results, published in The Journal of Clinical Immunology: In Practice.
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