1. Caramel coloring in cola is not caramel, but it’s quite dangerous

    Dangerous little brown bubbles

    Remember Crystal Pepsi? Does that stir something buried deep in your memory bin?

    Crystal Pepsi was a colorless cola that consumers rejected almost immediately back in the early 90s. Nobody wanted anything to do with a cola they could see through. They took one sip and went running back to their caramel color.

    That's the stuff they put in cola to give it the rich brown hue that cola drinkers seem to love.

    Whatever Madison Avenue madman came up with the idea to call it "caramel" was a smart cookie. This artificial coloring has nothing to do with caramel at all. But it's much easier to tempt cola drinkers with the suggestion of caramel rather than what it really is: a chemical called 4-methylimidazole (also known as 4-Mel).

    Caramel color sounds tasty. 4-Mel sounds like industrial soap. No contest.

    But you might actually be better off glugging liquid soap than drinking caramel color, which causes cancer in mice. In California, foods and beverages have to display a label that warns of potential cancer risk if they contain more than 29 mcg of 4-Mel. A recent Consumer Reports investigation tested a can of cola that tipped the scales at 195 mcg!

    That might help explain the results of a National Cancer Institute study that associated soda consumption with endometrial cancer in older women. Other studies have linked the brown bubbly to pancreatic and esophageal cancers.

    A Consumer Reports toxicologist hit the nail on the head when he said, "There's no reason why consumers should be exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary risk that can stem from coloring food brown."

    I think he's being way too generous by including cola soft drinks in the category of "food." In fact, soft drinks in general should be categorized as "avoidable and unnecessary."

    This April has been a cruel month for soda drinkers. If you missed it, you can go here to read new details about the soda habit that sharply increases risk of stroke and heart attack.


    Consumer Reports: Too many sodas contain potential carcinogen: (

  2. Cola color in cancer link

    The risks of soda don't end with the sweeteners.

    In fact, sugar and aspartame are only the beginning – because ounce for ounce, soda is just about the most destructive blend of chemicals being sold for consumption today.

    Now, a leading consumer group is pushing for a ban on one ingredient that may not even sound all that bad: caramel color.

    But this is no creamy candy – it's the byproduct of a pressurized treatment that combines sugar with ammonia, and leaves behind two compounds in particular that you definitely don't want to drink: 2-methylimidazole and 4- methylimidazole.

    California has already added 4-methylimidazole to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer, and set a safe upper limit of 16 micrograms a day.

    But the Center for Science in the Public Interest says a single can of soda contains more than eight times that amount – 130 micrograms.

    The CSPI recently filed a petition asking the FDA to ban this poison. The FDA, naturally, says it will "consider" it.

    In other words: Don't hold your breath.

    But while the feds drag their feet, science marches on – and new research finds that cancer isn't the only risk that can come from caramel color.

    One new study on rats finds it can even reduce white blood cell counts, leading to immune-system damage.

    So we got sugar… aspartame… caramel color… and we're not done yet. Here are some other common soda ingredients to watch out for:

    Phosphates: Too much phosphoric acid can suck the calcium right out of your bones like, well, like soda through a straw. And that means soda drinkers face a higher risk of osteoporosis in their later years. Phosphates can also rot teeth, increase the risk of kidney stones and even remove paint and rust from metal.

    Sodium benzoate: Added to soda and other soft drinks (even bottled teas) as a preservative, this stuff has been shown to cause cell damage – and that could speed the aging process. It's also been linked to conditions such as cancer, cirrhosis and Parkinson's disease.

    BPA: Just about every cola can sold in the country contains this hormone-like chemical, which has been linked to sexual problems, diabetes, heart disease and more.

    Put it all together, and you have a perfect blend of risk: Diet and regular soda alike have been linked to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, rotten teeth and overall poor health.

    The best way to avoid it all is to switch to freshly brewed coffee or tea. Hot or iced, you can't beat the taste – and they come loaded with real health benefits instead of deadly risks.

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