Do Soft Drinks Cause Cancer?

Cola based sodas may have cancer causing properties because of the caramel coloring used to give cola’s their brown color. Of course the chemical that is used to color cola is also used in other “brown” sodas like root beer and pepper colas.

The chemical used is called 4-MEI and has been listed as a carcinogen under California law. The amount of 4-MEI varies in the different brands of colas. The researchers have found that the California law may actually be something that the federal government should consider implimenting as well.

The Research:

The study that looked at the link between cola and cancer risk was a study that was conducted by John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future in Baltimore, MD. The study evaluated and confirmed research done by Consumer Reports a consumer watch dog agency.

The researchers collected extensive data that identified cola consumption and stated that “Routine consumption of certain beverages can result in 4-MEI exposures greater than 29 mcg a day” – the level that triggers a new case of cancer in every 100,000 people consuming the drink, toxicity that was established by previous studies in mice and rats conducted by the US National Toxicology Program.”

The lead researcher added that there was no way to recommend one cola over another because the amount of 4 -MEI could vary greatly in a sampling.

Dr. Nachman, an assistant professor at Bloomber School of Public Health at Hopkins commented after reading the results of the study “Soft drink consumers are being exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary cancer risk from an ingredient that is being added to these beverages simply for esthetic purposes. This unnecessary exposure poses a threat to public health and raises questions about the continued use of caramel coloring in soda.”

They found that the proportion of people that were drinking colas varied but that it was the number one soft drink choice. The researchers studied ten of thousands of health records and data that was collected by outside sources in the US. The population records were viewed for people between the age of 3-70 across a ten year period.

This was a comprehensive study that broke dark colored sodas into 5 categories.


Dr. Rangan the lead researcher states that “This new analysis underscores our belief that people consume significant amounts of soda that unnecessarily elevate their risk of cancer over the course of a lifetime,” which is equal parts alarming as it is important information.


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