Caramel Coloring Chemicals in Soda May Raise Cancer Risk

Posted on September 16, 2015 by Disability Help Group

Sodas have come under scrutiny for many reasons. Studies find they increase risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, among other ailments. A recent study now finds that the color of soda may increase cancer risk. Consumer Reports and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future conducted the study.

Caramel coloring, an additive that gives many colas and dark colored sodas their distinctive hue, could be exposing soda drinkers to a cancer-causing carcinogen. Manufacturing caramel coloring produces 4-MEI (4-methylimidazole), a potential carcinogen. Researchers tested 110 samples of soda brands and found that 4-MEI levels ranged from 9.5 mcg per liter to 963 mcg/L.

In the state of California, drinks must carry a warning label if they contain more than 29 mcg of 4-MEI. Previous research found that it is at this level that 4-MEI consumption may cause a risk of one case in every 100,000 people who consume this level.

Consumer Reports’ testing revealed that 4-MEI amounts varied across brands and even varied between lots of the same brand. The research did not reveal enough data for Consumer Reports to recommend any one brand of cola above others. Overall, the highest concentration of 4-MEI was found in Malta Goya while Coca-Cola was found to have the lowest concentration.

California is the only state to set a threshold of safety for 4-MEI content in drinks. It’s possible that more states may follow suit after considering the number of cola drinks the average American consumes. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that adolescents and young adults consume as much as 1,070 milliliters of caramel-colored sodas every day.

While one dark soda once in a while may not be enough to raise your cancer risk, the new research suggests that regular consumption may increase your risk. Reducing soda consumption may have several health benefits, as it may reduce risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, among other health conditions.

Cancer is one disabling conditions for which the treatment can result in side effects that make it impossible to continue working. If you or a loved one cannot work due to cancer symptoms or treatment side effects, it’s time to look into Social Security disability.