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Soda is not good for you. The high-calorie, sugary drinks have been linked to obesity and a host of other health problems. Soda can be particularly dangerous to children, who can consume lots of calories quickly through colas and other pop without feeling full. And then there’s the dental toll — it doesn’t take a peer-reviewed study to tell you that drinking lots of sweetened soda isn’t great for your teeth.

But soda isn’t just water, corn syrup and carbonation — a can of Coke or Pepsi also contains chemical additives for coloring and flavoring. And according to one public health group, those additives could increase your chance of getting cancer.

That’s the message from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a Washington-based consumer watchdog group. CSPI has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the “caramel coloring” that is used in Coke, Pepsi and other sodas, on the grounds that the chemicals are carcinogenic.

CSPI says the artificial brown coloring — which doesn’t have much to do with actual caramel, despite the name — is made by reacting corn sugar with ammonia and sulfites under high pressures and at high temperatures. (Just like Mom used to do it!) Those reactions produce the chemicals 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole — chemicals that government studies have found to cause lung, liver or thyroid cancer in lab rats or mice. “It’s a small but significant risk, and it’s the kind of thing that government agencies should deal with,” says Michael Jacobson, the executive director of CSPI.

Is Jacobson right? A 2007 study by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) found “clear evidence of carcinogenic activity of 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) in male and
female B6C3F1 mice based on increased incidences of alveolar/bronchiolar neoplasms,” otherwise known as lung tumors. The state of California has also concluded that 4-MEI is a carcinogen, and is in the process of crafting regulations that may require food and drinks containing significant levels of the chemical to bear cancer warnings.

According to California’s regulators, a level of more than 16 micrograms per day would pose a significant risk — meaning it could result in at least one excess case of cancer per 100,000 exposed people. Given that there are roughly 130 micrograms of 4-MI per 12-ounce can of soda — and given that the average American drinks 14 ounces of soda a day, with young men drinking far more — that would mean that most of us would be at some risk.

As a result, CSPI has been petitioning the FDA to change the name or ban the use of the chemicals in soda and other foods, or at least force manufacturers to put warning labels on their packaging. “We think industry can solve this problem,” says Jacobson. “They don’t want to put warning labels on their products.”

The soda industry, however, is fighting back. In a statement the American Beverage Association — an industry group that includes soda makers — denied that 4-MEI posed any danger to human health:

4-MEI is not a threat to human health. There is no evidence that 4-MEI causes cancer in humans. No health regulatory agency around the globe, including the Food and Drug Administration, has said that 4-MEI is a human carcinogen. This petition is nothing more than another attempt to scare consumers by an advocacy group long-dedicated to attacking the food and beverage industry.

In California a number of industry groups — including the American Beverage Association — have filed a lawsuit against state regulators to block efforts to list 4-MEI as a carcinogen:

The state agency’s decision does not reflect sound science and failed to follow its own regulations. Also, it did not take into account all the data available on the subject in this process.

Source: http://healthland.time.com

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In spite of the fact that the FDA has banned the drink Four Loko, students still want it, which makes the manufacturer of it very happy. Some students have had to find medical help as a result of the over consumption of this drink that combines alcohol and caffeine. Recently, some University students had to be taken to the hospital after they blacked out at party. It is becoming apparent that regular consumption of this drink could lead to alcohol addiction. This, in turn, will eventually require North Carolina alcoholism detoxification for regular Four Loko drinkers who live in the Tar Heel state.

At a recent music concert almost 30 people were treated an illness that was determined to be related to alcohol and 11 people were taken to the hospital. The drink Four Loko has also been involved of deadly automobile accidents. As a result of a study that was conducted and these incidents, the FDA sent warning letters four of the companies that manufacture the mixed beverage.

The drink Four Loko is the equivalent of 8oz. of coffee and four beers. Some health officials believe that the drink is dangerous since the caffeine hides the level of intoxication, which makes it hard for the consumers to determine their limit accurately. There have been some scientific studies that have even determined hat caffeine is a food additive that is unsafe.

Despite what the experts say, the makers of Four Loko disagree. Phusion Projects say that the drink Four Loko is no more concerning than consuming Red Bull and Vodka. They still believe the combination of caffeine and alcohol is safe. Further, popular drinks such as Irish coffees and rum and colas that have been consumed responsibly and safely or years should be facing the same scrutiny that the drink Four Loko have faced recently.

The FDA website recently reported that of the combined use of alcohol and caffeine among college student in the United States, the use was as much as 26%. Most college students don’t see a problem with the energy drink. Although the statement by Four Loko CEO might be considered by some to be a valid argument, others believe they see the social influences combined with the science of their product as a larger possible risk than any other mixed drink.

 

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