Tags: Cancer | soda | coloring | cancer | risk

Artificial Coloring in Soda Poses Cancer Risk: Study

By    |   Thursday, 19 February 2015 04:49 PM

Here’s yet another reason for habitual soda drinkers to rethink their beverage of choice: Individuals who drink at least one can per day significantly raise their risk from a potential carcinogen — 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) — formed during the manufacture of some caramel colorings.
 
That’s the upshot of new research spearheaded by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that noted the 44-58 percent of American adults who typically have at least one can of soda per day are at risk from 4-MEI in soft drinks.
 
The findings, published online in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS One, build on an analysis of 4-MEI concentrations in 11 different soft drinks first published by Consumer Reports in 2014. The researchers said lifetime exposure to 4-MEI from caramel-colored soft drinks may greatly increase cancer risk.
 
"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," said Keeve Nachman, senior author of the study and director of the Food Production and Public Health Program at the CLF. "This unnecessary exposure poses a threat to public health and raises questions about the continued use of caramel coloring in soda."
 
In 2013 and early 2014, Consumer Reports partnered with the CLF to analyze 4-MEI concentrations of 110 soft drink samples purchased from retail stores in California and the New York metropolitan area. The latest study paired those results with population beverage consumption data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in order to estimate the population risks and cancer burden associated with 4-MEI exposures through soda.
 
While the 2014 study was not large enough to recommend one brand over another or draw conclusions about specific brands, the results indicated that levels of 4-MEI could vary substantially across samples, even for the same type of beverage.
 
"For example, for diet colas, certain samples had higher or more variable levels of the compound, while other samples had very low concentrations," said Tyler Smith, a program officer with the CLF.
 
While there's no federal limit for 4-MEI in food or beverages, Consumer Reports petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to set limits for the potential carcinogen last year.
 
"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," said Urvashi Rangan, executive director for Consumer Reports' Food Safety and Sustainability Center. "We believe beverage makers and the government should take the steps needed to protect public health.

California has already taken an important step by setting a threshold for prompting Prop 65 labeling based on daily 4-MEI exposure from a food or beverage, such as a soda. This study sought to answer a critical question: How much soda do American consumers drink on average?"

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People who drink at least one can of soda per day significantly raise their risk from a potential carcinogen formed during the manufacture of some caramel colorings added to soft drinks.
soda, coloring, cancer, risk
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2015-49-19
Thursday, 19 February 2015 04:49 PM
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