Can Soda Cause Cancer?
Courtesy of JonBarron.org
Americans love soda. For many people, it is apparently the perfect accompaniment to lunches and dinners. Some go through cans all day long as they work or study. The average American consumes around 700 8-oz servings a year. And the habit often starts young, with lots of little kids ordering a soft drink with their Happy Meal. We know soda is full of empty calories and the diet versions are far from healthy with their chemical sweeteners, but, nevertheless, approximately 8.9 billion--yes, that's billion with a b--cases are sold annually in the U.S. alone.1 And those of us who regularly drink soda may really be putting ourselves at risk, and not just from diabetes and obesity. According to new research, soda drinkers are likely to be ingesting a cancer-causing substance on a daily basis.
The study, which was conducted at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, found that approximately half the population of the United States ages six and older may be consuming carcinogens in their soda every single day.2 The scientists built upon the findings of 2013 testing byConsumer Reports, which focused on the levels of 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) in soft drinks.3 This potentially carcinogenic chemical is in certain types of caramel coloring that give many sodas their brown hue.
The researchers involved in the current study assessed the number of people across the country drinking sodas daily in conjunction with the level of 4-MEI found in different types of sodas. They came to the conclusion that this kind of regular exposure would increase cancer risk. The earlier study had determined the amount of 4-MEI in more than 100 samples of sodas sold in California and New York. The soft drinks varied in their 4-MEI concentrations, not only between brands but also within the same brand, and in even two different samples of the same drink purchased from separate locations.
By analyzing data compiled for the National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES), the scientists found that 44 percent of all children six and above and 58 percent of all adults drink one can of soda per day or more. Given the amount of 4-MEI present in the vast majority of these sodas, even if the levels are not totally consistent, it is a lot of carcinogens to be ingesting over time. Sadly, there are no regulations set by the Food and Drug Administration as to limits on the quantity of this chemical allowed in our foods and beverages, even though it was shown in a 2007 study at the National Toxicology Program to be associated with increased instances of lung tumors and leukemia in animal experiments.4
Interestingly, the samples taken from soft drinks sold in the state of California often had lower levels of 4-MEI than those for purchase in New York. It is quite possible that the soft drink manufacturers are more carefully monitoring the amount of 4-MEI in their drinks sold in California because that state has enacted laws requiring companies to label products that contain more than 29 micrograms of 4-MEI. The findings were lower in samples from California than New York, pretty consistently across the board. What that suggests is that the soft drink manufacturers are able to limit the amount of 4-MEI in their products to keep them to the California standards. It also tells us that other states could be doing more to help protect their citizens with similar laws, but it would seem they are not.
In the end, as with most situations, it is really up to us to consider a little more seriously what we are putting into our bodies and what to avoid, or at least limit, that might be potentially dangerous. And one of the first things that belongs on an avoidance list is soda of any kind. Sodas are full of empty calories and have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Diet sodas may not offer needless calories, but the sugar substitutes they contain are associated with numerous issues as well, including cardiovascular disease and depression. So put down that can of soda and dump those two-liter bottles. Water is a much better option for a healthy lifestyle.
Founder and Director of the Baseline of Health® Foundation, Jon Barron has been at the forefront of much of the pioneering work in the study of nutrition and anti-aging for the last 45 years. He is editor and publisher of the Baseline of Health® Newsletter and the Barron Report, which are both read by thousands of doctors, health experts, government health ministers, and nutrition consumers in over 100 countries. For more information, visit http://www.jonbarron.org.
- 1.Wahba, Phil. "U.S. soda sales fall to lowest since 1995 - report." Reuters. 31 March 2014. Accessed 22 February 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/31/usa-soda-beverages-idUSL1N0MS16O20140331
- 2."Half of Americans at risk of carcinogen exposure from soda, study finds." Fox News. 18 February 2015. Accessed 22 February 2015. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/02/18/half-americans-at-risk-carcinogen-exposure-from-soda-study-finds
- 3."Caramel color: The health risk that may be in your soda." Consumer Reports. 10 February 2014. Accessed 23 February 2015. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/01/caramel-color-the-health-risk-that-may-be-in-your-soda/index.htm
- 4."Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of 4-Methylimidazole in F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Feed Studies)."National Toxicology Program. January 2007. Accessed 23 February 2015. http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/results/pubs/longterm/reports/longterm/tr500580/listedreports/tr535/index.html