warning label

  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: (cnn.com)

  2. Docs looking to "see no evil" after bad antidepressant news

    It seems like patients aren't the only ones hooked on prescription drugs. Many doctors depend on them too – just in a different way.

    When researchers from the World Health Organization reviewed eight studies, they determined that certain antidepressants increase suicide attempts by younger people, especially those in the 18-25 age group. (Their review was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.) The concerns center around drugs known as selective
    serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and include Paxil, Celexa, Prozac and Zoloft.

    The studies were alarming enough that most antidepressants now come with a so-called "black box" warning on the label regarding the increased suicide risk in the under-25 group.

    That's all well and good, because everyone – not just younger patients – should think twice before taking these drugs, and those warnings certainly have that effect. But there was an unintended consequence of that, one as fascinating as it is disturbing.

    Some doctors of course stopped prescribing these drugs to their younger patients. Who can blame them, really? No one who takes the Hippocratic Oath wants to treat a patient by providing something that may kill them.

    But these doctors didn't merely stop prescribing these drugs for their younger patients. They stopped treating the depression altogether. They even stopped diagnosing it.

    In other words, doctors were so stymied once that crutch of a quick-fix drug was taken out of their medicine bag that they simply behaved as if the condition never existed in the first place.

    I guess some of them are as dependent on these supposed cures as any patient.

    And that means countless people are suffering needlessly from depression as a result of this. I say needlessly because there are simple and effective treatments for depression that don't require dangerous drugs.

    I've found that tryptophan, B6, B12 and other vitamins can work wonders on people in ways no antidepressant can.

    Your first step in any condition, especially a mood-altering one like depression, should be to check yourself for deficiencies of vitamins and nutrients, and then turn to a nutritional-based treatment to restore those things that your body lacks.

    Restoring that balance is the first step in restoring your health – both physical and mental.

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