Caramel Coloring In Your Favorite Sodas May Increase Risk Of Cancer

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An ingredient in soda used purely for aesthetic reasons contains a carcinogen that could cause cancer in frequent soda drinkers.

The artificial coloring in dark sodas like Coca-Cola and Pepsi has been found to contain the chemical 4-methylimidazole (4-MEl), Medical Daily reports.

According to the FDA, 4-MEl is produced as a byproduct when the brown coloring is added to the drink, and there's so much of it in some sodas it can increase the drinker's risk of getting cancer.

There is no federal limit as to how much 4-MEl can be in food or beverages, but California law states that manufacturers must put cancer warnings on the labels of anything with over 29 micrograms of the chemical.

In 2013, researchers at Consumer Reports conducted two analyses of 4-MEl in soft drinks from California and New York.

The two studies found several 12-oz beverages to contain more 4-MEl than the California law restricts, particularly Pepsi and Malta Goya, which is a popular drink in the Caribbean.

Consumer Reports recently conducted another 4-MEl study, this time with the help of the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

This study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that over half of Americans ages 6 to 64 have an increased risk of cancer due to the amount of 4-MEl they consume every day.

Study author Keeve Nachman said in a press release,

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 aesthetic purposes.This unnecessary exposure poses a threat to public health and raises questions about the continued use of caramel coloring in soda.

California's law is based on evidence stating that as long as there is under 29 micrograms of 4-MEl in a beverage, no more than one in 100,000 drinkers could end up with cancer.

But Consumer Reports' latest study says that 4-MEl could still go on to be named the cause for between 76 and 5,000 cases of cancer in the US over the next 70 years.

Information like this suggests that, much like cigarettes, what was once embraced as a refreshing treat will soon be exposed as an agent of death.

Citations: Caramel Coloring In Soda May Increase Cancer Risk (Medical Daily)