When I was younger, I had a friend who watched four children for a week when their parents went on a cruise. There was no cereal in the house, so they made a run to the store where my girlfriend let them pick out brightly colored fruity cereals--after all, fruit is better for them than chocolate, right? By the end of the week she was telling me stories I couldn’t believe. The ten-year old, usually so well-behaved, had major attitude problems after the first few days, while the four-year old spent much of her time in timeout, even going so far as to spit on furniture. I was shocked by her accounts. But at the end of the week, when she discussed their behavior with their mother, the mother explained to me that their children have strong reactions to red dye. That’s why she only fed them oatmeal for breakfast--something the children had omitted from the conversation.
Although I heard these stories second-hand, it got me wondering whether synthetic dyes were truly as dangerous as this mother believed. Read on to see why I now call artificial dye the attitude adjuster.
According to this Forbes article, the war on artificial dyes and colors started in 1906 when the first restrictions were placed on artificial colors that proved “injurious to health.” After decades of color after color being eliminated (for example, Orange #1 in 1950 when the government saw adverse health effects in children after Halloween, Red #2 after studies showed intestinal tumor development in rats, and a variety of yellow shades, which have been linked to everything from anxiety & migraines to cancer) we now only have seven colors remaining on the FDA list.
Although much progress has been made, there are still concerning links between artificial dyes and their dangers. For example, this article at the National Institute of Health writes that several dyes (still allowed on the FDA list) have been linked to the development of hyperactivity in children, are carcinogenic or are inadequately tested. Of specific interest are Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6, which all contain benzidene, a “human and animal carcinogen…[which] the FDA calculated in 1985 was just under the ‘concern’ threshold.” Although you may choose to shrug this off, it makes you think again when you realize that many of these dyes are banned in the UK & Europe. In fact, beginning in June 2010, most foods were required to begin indicating that any foods with artificial dyes could cause hyperactivity in children.
As always, we recommend that you educate yourself on what you eat in your kitchen and use in your bathroom. When you’re ready to turn away from artificial dyes and colors in all of your routines, we think you should give Real Purity a try! We don’t use artificial dyes or colors, nor SLS compounds or parabens, in any of our products.