Sugar is probably the most dangerous ingredient in most sodas -- but I have to say "probably" here, because it's got some pretty tough competition.

Most sodas aren't drinks so much as water mixed with a collection of ingredients that seem like they belong in chemistry kits instead of food and beverages.

And that includes the so-called caramel color.

As I told you last year, caramel color isn't a simple food dye, and it's nothing like caramel candy like it's name implies. It's actually the byproduct of a pressurized treatment that combines sugar with ammonia. (Yes, ammonia!)

One of the "extra" ingredients created by this process is 4-methylimidazole, a chemical with such strong links to cancer that California law requires a warning label on anything that contains certain amounts of it.

And many sodas contain way more than those amounts -- up to eight times what the state considers to be the safe upper limit.

Now, soda companies trying to avoid the warning label are starting to use a new version of the color that has less 4-methylimidazole.

But is that really worth celebrating? Soda now has less of a cancer-causing chemical?

And let's face it, even if they managed to completely do away with caramel color -- or at least the 4-methylimidazole -- soda would still be bubbling over with cancer risk, thanks to all the sugar.

Diets high in sugar have been linked to any number of cancers -- and if you're unlucky enough to get the disease, sugar will actually help it to grow and spread. It's like food for tumors.

Believe it or not, the risks don't stop there.

Sodas often contain phosphates, which can pull calcium from your bones and leave you battling osteoporosis. They can also cause kidney stones and -- along with that sugar -- rot your teeth right out of your head.

Some sodas even contain sodium benzoate, a preservative that can cause the kind of cell damage that leads to cancer, cirrhosis, and Parkinson's disease -- just to name a few.

And the fake sugars used in diet sodas come with plenty of risks of their own -- they've been linked to everything from cancer to migraines.

So don't waste any time looking at the ingredients labels, trying to figure out which soda might be better than the other. Just skip them all.