Stearic acid is a kind of saturated fatty acid which is also known as octadecanoic acid. This kind of fatty acid is generally found in animal derivatives like meat, poultry, fish, milk products and eggs. It can also be extracted from vegetables. It basically functions as an emulsifier and emollient and is often used as a base for the production of other fatty acids and as a main ingredient in making plastics, candles, dietary supplements, wax oil crayon, and rubber softeners. There are also several cosmetic products that have stearic acids including soaps, shampoos, lotions, and conditioners.Vegetable oil usually uses stearic acid as a main ingredient.
Adverse Effects of Octadecanoic Acid
There are stearic acid side effects that are considered as mild and can be easily controlled or managed. These side effects include the following:
- Skin Irritations: Irritations of the skin may be accompanied by severe itching and often time redness and swelling. There are also rash-like symptoms that may occur like small red spots.
- Sensitivity of the Skin: One of the milder side effects of stearic acid is making the skin sensitive to substances and direct exposure to the sun.
- Damage of the Skin: In certain occasions, hive-like spots may occur in the skin which will often turn into blisters that can damage the skin. There are also times wherein the skin will turn scaly.
Harmful Risks of Stearic Acid on Health
Octadecanoic acid has been considered as a low-hazard ingredient. But there have been many cases that reported several harmful effects of this fatty acid. These harmful side effects include the following:
- Toxicity: Commonly used sources of stearic acid which are palm and cottonseed oil often contain altered products after being hydrogenated. These products are often toxic to the body. On the other hand, palm and cottonseed oil contain pesticides that can be very harmful to the body.
- Absorption Problem: One of the cons of consuming products that have stearic acid is its way in making the digestive system have difficulties in absorbing essential nutrients that is needed by the body to function optimally.
- Overdose: The problem with stearic acids usually occurs when large amounts are consumed. Overdose of the fatty acid can lead to serious and unusual health effects.
- Immune Responses: Normal functioning of T-cells in the body will be greatly affected when a patient consumes large amounts of stearic acid. These T-cells are needed for immune responses and if these are damaged, the immune system will be weakened.
Hazards and Dangers of Stearic Acid
- Inhalation of fumes that contain octadecanoic acids can cause severe respiratory problems which can lead to asphyxia.
- Stearic acid can also cause problems in the intestines which lead to gastroenteritis.
- Long exposure of large amounts of stearic acid had been studied to cause cancer.