Food companies around the world have been adding small amounts of Ginkgo biloba to food and beverages as it is believed that it boosts memory and mental strength. However, some recent studies dispute this hypothesis and some others seem to suggest that it could cause cancer.
Ginkgo is a known anti-clotting or blood thinning agent and so it should not be consumed before or after surgery, during labour and delivery, or by those with bleeding problems such as hemophilia.
Gingko causing Cancer?
The U.S Government’s National Toxicology Program published it’s first study in 2013 on Ginkgo‘s ability to cause cancer. The study claimed it found “clear evidence” that Ginkgo biloba caused liver cancer in male and female mice and also provided evidence that Ginkgo caused thyroid cancer in rats.
After this government report was published, that the herbal ingredient Ginkgo biloba causes cancer in lab animals, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) started urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prohibit its use in foods and dietary supplements.
Researchers from National Toxicology Program (NTP) told the New York Times that the number of cancers found in the mice exceeded the numbers ever seen before in their lab. The food supplement industry argued that the NTP had samples of Ginkgo not used in supplements sold in the United States, however, the NTP said that the extract it used was from the range of what is sold in the U.S.
On the basis of the NTP report, the US FDA has warned one food manufacturer Stewart Brothers, Inc., that Ginkgo is not safe in food. It is hard for the agency to remove supplement ingredients from the market, but if it found that an ingredient was posing an unreasonable risk of illness or injury, it could take action.
We at foodnetindia are not sure yet and await other studies that could confirm these findings. Until then, we recommend that it is better to err on the side of caution and stop using Ginko.