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4-Mel Cola Coloring Linked to Cancer

cola full of ice

Dr. Crandall has always been a proponent of limiting the amount of soft drinks in his patients diets, but after the recent findings below, you should avoid soda all together. Dr. Crandall’s shares with us the startling news below:

The caramel coloring in your favorite cola causes cancer in mice — and may cause cancer in you as well, warn scientists. The chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-Mel) causes colas to turn a rich brown color, but it’s not related to caramel in any form. Although it’s been known since 2007 to be carcinogenic, there’s no federal rule to limit its use.

California’s Proposition 65 law was enacted in 2012 to force foods sold in California that contain more than 29 micrograms of 4-Mel to carry a warning label. But in tests conducted last year, Consumer Reports found that a single can of some popular soft drinks sold in the United States contains much more than the daily maximum. One can of Pepsi One tested contained more than 195 micrograms of 4-Mel. Some manufacturers have promised to reduce levels of the chemical, but haven’t vowed to ban it completely.

“There’s no reason why consumers should be exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary risk that can stem from coloring food brown,” says Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., toxicologist and executive director of Consumer Reports’ Food Safety & Sustainability Center. “Manufacturers have lower 4-Mel alternatives available to them. Ideally there would be no 4-Mel in food.”
An avalanche of studies in the past decade have linked soft drinks to a wide variety of diseases including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, liver disease, osteoporosis, and lung problems. Studies add to the mountain of evidence, and indicate that even modest amounts of cola can have devastating health consequences.

If you haven’t been convinced to quit drinking sodas — or at least to drastically reduce your consumption — here are a handful of recent studies that show sodas damage your health:

  • Kidney damage. A Japanese study found that drinking two or more soft drinks a day increases the risk of proteinuria, an increase in the excretion of protein in urine that is a major sign of kidney dysfunction.
  • Cardiovascular disease. A study at Harvard University found that even a single can a day of regular soda can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by 19 percent. Diet sodas may even be worse on the heart: A study from the University of Miami found a daily can of diet soda increased the risk of heart attack and stroke by 61 percent.
  • Eroding teeth. A report published in General Dentistry found that drinking an excessive amount of soda can cause damage to teeth that’s similar to that caused by smoking crystal meth or crack cocaine. A study looked at a meth user, a cocaine abuser, and a person who drank about two big bottles of diet soda a day. “Each person experienced severe tooth erosion caused by the high acid levels present in their ‘drug’ of choice — meth, crack, or soda,” said lead author Dr. Mohamed A. Bassiouny. The acid in colas wears away tooth enamel, making teeth more likely to become decayed, sensitive, and develop cracks.
  • Asthma and COPD. Australian researchers found that soft drinks increased the risk of both asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and the more cola a person drank, the more their risk increased. Smoking increased the odds even more — smokers who drank about 16 ounces of soft drinks a day had a 6.6 increased risk of developing COPD.
  • Endometrial cancer. A study funded by the National Cancer Institute found that the more sodas an older woman drank, the higher her risk for endometrial cancer. Postmenopausal women who drank the most sugary sodas increased their risk by 78 percent over women who drank the least.
  • Behavior problems in children. A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that the more sodas 5-year-olds drank, the more aggressive behavior they exhibited, including getting into fights and destroying other people’s belongings.

Switching to diet colas doesn’t bypass health risks. Recent studies show that diet drinks cause more weight gain than sugar. Researchers at Purdue University found that the artificial sweeteners upset the body’s normal metabolism and increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. They’ve also been linked to an increase of cancer: A study printed in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men who drank more than one soft drink a day sweetened with the artificial sweetener aspartame increased their risk of several blood cancers. In addition, women who drink two or more cans of diet soda a day increase their risk of stroke and heart attack by 30 percent, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

How can you break the soda habit? Try mixing fruit juice with carbonated water, and drink unsweetened tea and coffee as well as herbal teas. And you can always opt for water, adding mint, lime, or lemon for flavor if plain water is too boring.

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