Sodium Benzoate (E211) – Side Effects (Allergies) & Uses (Cosmetics)

Sodium Benzoate (E211) – Side Effects (Allergies) & Uses (Cosmetics):


Sodium benzoate (E211) is a salt derived from benzoic acid, used as a preservative in a variety of foods, beverages, condiments, and cosmetics (mouthwash, shampoo, body lotions, and deodorant).

Also, it is the main ingredient of various paint stripper products, spot removers, and rubber cement, due to its highly solvent and destructive qualities.

E211 is used to help inhibit the growth of fungus and bacteria in acidic products. Concentration as a food preservative is limited by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States to 0.1 percent by weight.


Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects how a person feels, thinks, and behaves. This mental disorder about 2.6 million American adults.

According to a 2018 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial which was led by Dr Hsien-Yuan Lane, of China Medical University, E211 is more effective than a placebo in improving negative schizophrenia symptoms.

Molecular Formula


Molar Mass

144.11 g/mol

Side Effects Of Sodium Benzoate (E211) In Foods

There are many chemical additives that present health hazards, but synthetic E211 is particularly dangerous because it is able to damage parts of the DNA.

This means that the E211 consumed today may still be causing problems for future generations.

In combination with ascorbic acid (vitamin C, E300), potassium benzoate and E211 may form benzene, a known carcinogen and DNA damager. Factors such as heat and time can affect their development.


ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a brain-based syndrome that has to do with the regulation of a particular set of brain functions and related behaviors. In the present day, it is one of the most frequent neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood.

For instance, according to In 2011, the CDC,  the percentage of children in the US who have ever been diagnosed with this condition is now 9.5 percent.

Researchers at Southampton University noted that tests have shown that this chemical lowers the I.Q. by up to 5 points in children. They also concluded that artificial colors or E211 preservatives (or both) in the diet result in increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the general population. (1)

In 2011, scientists at the Department of Biology, Gazi University, Ankara, Turkey, evaluated the genotoxic impact of this substance in cultured human cells.

They found that the chemical considerably increased damage to DNA (which triggers cell mutation and cancer) when it was added to the cells in various concentrations. Also, this compound is mutagenic, clastogenic, and cytotoxic to human lymphocytes in vitro. (2)

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In May 2007, Professor Peter Piper, an expert on aging, molecular biology, and biotechnology at the University of Sheffield, conducted a test on living yeast cells in his lab.

He concluded that the sodium benzoate in the soft drinks sampled actually caused damage to the mitochondria, which plays a critical role in the generation of metabolic energy in a eukaryotic cell.

“These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it: they knock it out altogether” – Professor Peter Piper.

Additional severe side effects may result from the combination of sodium phenylacetate and E211, including chest pains, severe headache, fainting, slow heartbeat, blurred vision, unresponsiveness, and slurred speech.

Natural alternatives to this compound do exist. One product on the market is called Natamax, a natural antimycotic based on natamycin, produced by fermentation using a string of “Streptomyces natalensis” and blended with lactose.

During Pregnancy

A few animal reproduction studies have established an adverse effect on the fetus.

More importantly, currently, there are no well-controlled and adequate studies in humans, therefore, it is recommended to avoid foods and drinks containing this substance during pregnancy.


Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to a foreign substance, like – bee venom, pollen, or pet dander as well as a food that doesn’t cause a reaction in the majority of people.

An estimated 50 million adults in the United States suffer from allergies every year.

For some people can also produce mild allergy symptoms, which can include – localized itching, cough, redness, rash, swelling, or congestion. Symptoms usually appear within minutes to several hours after ingesting foods containing this compound.


Cancer has a big impact on society across the world and in the US. For instance, there will be more than 600,920 cancer deaths and 1,688,780 new cancer cases diagnosed in the United States in 2017.

Also, according to a recent report, the U.S. ranks 8th for cancer in women and 10th in the world for cancer in men. In addition, men have a higher chance of developing cancer than women.

Consuming foods and drinks containing this compound may promote various types of cancer, due to the fact that when is combined with ascorbic acid, it transforms into benzene, which according to studies, can definitely cause certain types of cancers.

Lastly, people who have experienced benzene poisoning and need medical treatment show a notable risk of mortality from leukemia.

Is It Vegan?

Yes, because it is produced by reacting sodium hydroxide with benzoic acid.


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References – 1, 2

5 thoughts on “Sodium Benzoate (E211) – Side Effects (Allergies) & Uses (Cosmetics)”

    • Hey, Nabende Sudi. The fungicide and insecticide substance found naturally in avocados (persin) may damage the DNA of normal cells, as well as cancer cells.


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