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New Carcinogen Alert Provides Yet Another Reason to Ditch Soda


New Carcinogen Alert Provides Yet Another Reason to Ditch Soda

Surprise! Soda contains yet another chemical that could cause cancer.

The offender is 4-methylimidazole aka 4-Mel and it is what gives cola its brown, caramel color. Even though there are no federal limits for the amount of 4-Mel allowed in food and beverages, Consumer Reports decided to measure how much 4-Mel was in soft drinks in 2013. In that study they found that a 12-ounce bottle of soda could contain 3.4 to 352.5 micrograms of the stuff.

Recently, Consumer Reports followed up on that study by partnering with the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Researchers evaluated how much 4-Mel the average American consumes by analyzing seven years of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. These estimated daily soda consumption numbers helped formulate the potential cancer risk based on how much soda someone drank.

So as a nation, how many sodas are we drinking per day? First of all, more than half of us between the ages of 6 to 64 drink the fizzy stuff on a typical day. And while you may hear about people who drink nothing but the stuff, the average amount lies somewhere in the one to 2.5 12-ounce cans range—with the highest amount consumed being three cans a day.

Reporting their findings in the journal PLOS One, researchers estimate that 4-Mel exposure alone could contribute to 76 to 5,000 new cases of cancer in the U.S. over the next 70 years. And while that doesn’t seem like a lot, consider that our exposure to 4-Mel doesn’t come from soda alone. Bread and other baked goods, dark sauces such as soy or barbecue, pancake syrup and soup may all contain the stuff, but most of our exposure—25 percent of it—can be contributed to soda.

While this might not be the straw that breaks your soda habit, consider that soda drinking has been linked to numerous health issues, including addiction, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, allergies and weight gain (those fizzy treats provide 7 percent of our total calorie intake and are a major source of added sugars).

Carey Rossi is a writer and editor with 10 years of experience covering all aspects of nutrition and fitness. She was the editor-in-chief of Better Nutrition, a shopping magazine for natural living, and the founding editor of Muscle & Fitness Hers. In addition, her work has appeared in Muscle & Fitness, Looking Good Now, Healthy Family, Vegetarian Times and Natural Health. She is the author of No More Diets Ever, Lose Weight the Natural Way.

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6 responses to “New Carcinogen Alert Provides Yet Another Reason to Ditch Soda”

  1. Joanne Bell says:

    See above

  2. Terri says:

    If enough of us keep the pressure on the FDA and American Cancer Society about the danger of 4-MEL and not let up, change will come sooner than later. What brings change most effectively as we all know is using our wallet.

  3. Jeff Handshaw says:

    Another baseless attack on soda (this is the sugared version), another example of poor journalism trying to create a crisis for the sake of a story. Carey Rossi is a writer and editor, which does not make her a creditable source to make scientific/medical statement or conclusions.
    If you read the study it proved nothing aside from the fact that 4-MEL was in soda and that levels of 4-MEL differed depending on where it was purchased. It did not prove that that soda levels of 4-MEL caused cancer, unless you drank 1000 sodas/day
    “Still, in statements made to the media, FDA officials have suggested that highly unrealistic soda consumption (i.e., 1,000 cans per day) would be required to achieve the 4-MEI exposures that induced cancer in toxicological studies”
    Get over it everyone, aside from the sugar there’s nothing wrong with soda, especially diet soda…it is flavored water, that’s all.
    The proper name for this article should be: “Levels of 4-MEL in sodas found completely safe no matter how many you drink a day, so no worries here”

    And honestly, I’ll bet that the purified flavored carbonated water that you flush your body with with every time you drink a soda, washes away FAR more carcinogens than the piddling amount of 4-MEL that you ingest (and later excrete).

    • john says:

      ” especially diet soda…it is flavored water, that’s all.”

      IT shows you didn’t do your research…

      Diet soda dangers: New study may link aspartame to cancer

      Diet sodas contain fewer calories and many people turn to them to lose weight, but newer studies are suggesting the small benefits may not outweigh the health risks.

      New reports are suggesting that diet soft drinks can lead to weight gain, strokes and kidney failure. Now, the debate is whether or not diet soda can lead to certain types of cancer.

      Dr. Rasa with Rush University Medical Center is strict with her patients when it comes to diet soda.

      “There is nothing good for the body,” Dr. Rasa says about the fizzy drink.

      Dr. K, as her patients call her, gives us a visualization of what she means.

      “If we look at water which is clear and on the left hand side we see the polluted water, which has water and some ingredients sometimes called a proprietary mix,” Dr. Rasa explains. “You don’t even know what kind of pollution you’re drinking in that.”

      A number of people we spoke with say their doctors agree.

      “I had drunk a lot of diet soda, at least 64 ounces a day and thinking I was losing weight, etcetera by doing it,” Dawn Miller says. “And [my doctor] advised me that the chemicals were really bad.”

      Doctors say drinking 2 or more diet sodas per day actually increases your chance of being obese by 57 percent. A Nurses Health study suggests diet soft drinks can even effect your vital organs.

      “That study showed the association between diet soda consumption and decreased kidney function.”

      myfoxchicago. co m/story/20939173/diet-soda-dangers-new-study-may-link-aspartame-to-cancer

      Coke Changed Caramel Color To Avoid Cancer Warning; Pepsi In Transition

      The caramel color that Coke and Pepsi used to give colas that distinctive brown hue contained a chemical, 4-methylimidazole — 4-MEI — that is listed as a carcinogen by the state.

      And in accordance with California’s Proposition 65 law, the levels of 4-MEI found in sodas would have warranted a cancer warning label on every can sold in the state.

      So, as I reported last year, Coke and Pepsi both said they would switch to a reformulated caramel color, one that did not contain 4-MEI.

      Now, it appears that both companies have managed to complete this transition for sodas sold in the state of California.

      But a new analysis by the Center for Environmental Health found that 10 of 10 samples of Pepsi products purchased nationwide during the month of June (in locations outside California) contained levels of 4-MEI that were about four to eight times higher than the safety thresholds set by California. The testing was conducted by Eurofins Analytical laboratory in Metairie, La.

      In contrast, nine of the 10 samples of Coke products purchased in locations outside California contained little or no trace of 4-MEI.
      npr. o rg/blogs/thesalt/2013/07/03/198040172/coke-changed-caramel-color-to-avoid-cancer-warning-pepsi-in-transition

      • Casie Terry says:

        Great response and thank you!

        Thanks to both of you gentlemen for being a part of our community! Differing opinions can only thicken the friendly fabric of Live in the Now and lead us as publishers to better understand the public perceptions we need to correct. So both comments are much appreciated. And Jeff I hope you find time to look into a few of the studies John noted. Best to both of you!

  4. john says:

    They need to put a cancer warning label on all these products. They put it on tobacco already…