Sodas may increase heart attacks, stroke, cancer

August 12, 2012

Food, Health Concerns, Heart disease

The Center for Science in the Public Interest issued a report warning that the chemical used to give cola its caramel coloring could raise a soda-drinker’s cancer risk.

by Mary Budinger — 

A recent study reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine suggests that people who drink diet soda every day are 44 percent more likely than non-drinkers to suffer a heart attack or stroke.

Researchers said the study tried to account for the possibility that people who drink diet sodas also may tend to have more unhealthy habits. Daily diet-soda drinkers do tend to be heavier and more often have heart risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes and unhealthy cholesterol levels.

But even after the researchers factored in those differences, they found that daily diet soda was linked to a 44-percent higher chance of heart attack or stroke.

The findings are based on 2,564 New York City adults who were 69 years old, on average, at the outset. Over the next decade, 591 men and women had a heart attack, stroke or died of cardiovascular causes.

That included 31 percent of the 163 people who were daily diet-soda drinkers at the study’s start. In contrast, 22 percent of people who rarely or never drank diet soda went on to have a heart attack or stroke.

Last March, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) issued a report warning that the chemical used to give cola its caramel coloring could raise a soda-drinker’s cancer risk.  CSPI found that Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi contained unsafe levels of the coloring ingredient 4-methylimidazole (4-MI).

CSPI estimated the amount of 4-MI in the Coke and Pepsi products tested is causing about 15,000 cancers among the U.S. population. The tests also revealed that the quantity of the ingredient was more than four times the amount set by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

There were concerns that one of the food-coloring ingredients may cause tumors in mice — although there was no evidence of a similar risk for humans. The American Beverage Association said, “This is nothing more than CSPI scare tactics, and their claims are outrageous. The science simply does not show that 4-MI in foods or beverages is a threat to human health.”

However, a month later, Pepsi and Coke said they will cease the use of the chemical in the U.S. because California’s law would require the soft drink companies to place a warning label on their packaging.

Sources: Reuters, CSPI, and Journal of General Internal Medicine, online January 27, 2012.

 

Mary Budinger is an Emmy award-winning journalist who writes about integrative medicine. 602-494-1999.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 3, June/July 2012.

 

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