Category Archives: Cola

Attention cola fans: caramel color may put you at risk for cancer has had a lot to say about caramel color over the years. The artificial color is quite high on our avoid list for several important reasons. Caramel color can decrease the body’s immune response. People with gluten sensitivities or Celiac disease can experience an allergic reaction to caramel color. It can raise blood pressure. And it has been linked to cancer. There are four types of caramel color and two of the most common types have been proven especially harmful. The problem is that consumers can’t identify the type of caramel color used in any product because manufacturers aren’t required to identify it on ingredient lists. While caramel color is used in thousands of products, sodas are the most common place you’ll find the ingredient.

Thousands of Americans drink soda every day and these individuals do not just increase their sugar intake and their odds of packing unnecessary weight. They also put themselves at risk of developing cancer.

The ingredients of colas and other soft drinks typically include a caramel coloring, which gives these beverages their distinct caramel color.

Unfortunately, some types of this food coloring contain a chemical known as 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI), a potential carcinogen.

Now, an analysis published in the journal PLOS ONE on Feb. 18 has revealed that more than half of Americans between 6 and 64 years old sip amounts of soft drinks per day that could expose them to amounts of 4-MeI that could raise their risks of developing cancer.

Keeve Nachman, from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, and colleagues looked at a previous study conducted by researchers from the Consumer Reports that analyzed the concentration of 4-Mel in 12 brands of sodas and soft drink. They also analyzed the soft drinks consumption in the U.S. using data from the National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES) to estimate the potential cancer risks of soft drinks consumption.

The researchers found that the average soda consumption in the U.S. ranges from a little over 12-ounces(1 can) to almost two and a half cans of soda per day with the biggest consumers being those between 16 and 44 years old. Children between 3 to 5 years old were likewise found to drink soft drinks on a typical day averaging about two thirds of a can.

The researchers said that at the rate at which Americans consume soda, they expect the emergence of between 76 to 5,000 cancer cases in the U.S. over the next seven decades that can be attributed to exposure to 4-MeI alone.
“It appears that 4-MeI exposures associated with average rates of soft drink consumption pose excess cancer risks exceeding one case per 1,000,000 exposed individuals, which is a common acceptable risk goal used by some U.S. federal regulatory agencies,” the researchers wrote.

Nachman said that soft drink consumers get exposed to unwanted and avoidable cancer risks from an ingredient that is added to beverages and other foods for aesthetic purposes and this raises concerns on the continued use of caramel coloring in sodas. The Food and Drug Administration said that it will take a closer look at the use of this artificial coloring in a variety of foods.

Soda is unnecessary in any diet. Skipping the sugar and calories in sugared sodas and the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas, the ingredient lists are laden with chemicals. Caramel color is one of the most popular chemicals in those ingredient lists. Watch for it — not only in sodas, but in a variety of other foods and beverages as well.

What’s not a diet soda, but not a regular soda? Coming soon to the U.S. … Coke Life

0616_coke_life_970-630x420Soda drinkers have a bit of a problem these days. The widely held opinion used to be that diet sodas were a better choice than sugared sodas. Now, though, the artificial sweeteners in sugared sodas are linked to actual weight gain, instead of weight loss. Their sugary counterparts are under fire for contributing to the obesity crisis, in addition to the rise in diabetes and heart disease. Of course, for those of us who aren’t soda drinkers, both diet and regular sodas are the equivalent of chemical nightmares. But soda drinkers are having a hard time figuring out what to do. So much so that soda sales have steadily declined over the last 9 years. Consumers aren’t happy with soda choices and it’s beginning influence manufacturer decisions.

Coca-Cola, notably, is responding. There’s a new Coke on the horizon. Packaged in a green can that most of us aren’t yet familiar with, Coke Life is Coca-Cola’s answer to consumer concerns. Sweetened with stevia, this new version of regular Coke has been released in Argentina and Chili. This coming fall, it will debut in the U.K. It’s worth pointing out that this is the first new addition to Coke branded sodas in almost eight years.

Coke Life isn’t exactly a diet drink. It contains more than four tablespoons of real sugar and has about 89 calories per can—less than the 140 calories found in a can of regular Coke, but hardly something that will be championed by the quinoa crowd.

Instead, Coke Life is Coca-Cola’s answer to the two health concerns that have been hitting the company’s soda sales with a one-two punch: the anti-sugar movement, which rails against its full-calorie, full-sugar line of beverages, and the perception that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (found in both Diet Coke and Coke Zero) are unhealthy and can even contribute to weight gain.

These concerns have contributed to a steady nine-year decline in U.S. soda sales. Last year they slid even further—dropping 3 percent, or more than double the 1.2 percent they’d fallen the year before. (Soda is already down a further 2 percent this year.) Diet soda sales withstood the decline for a while; now they appear to be tumbling, too. Last year, Diet Coke sales in the U.S. dropped nearly 7 percent, according to Beverage Digest.

As soda sales have fallen, Coke has also found itself fending off health-policy experts and state governments pushing for increased regulation of sugary drinks and snacks. New York City’s limit on soda container sizes is currently making its way through state courts, and a California law that would add a warning label to cans saying, “Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay” has made it through the state senate, despite heavy lobbying by the local arm of the American Beverage Association (of which Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are members). In the U.K., where Coke Life will make its next debut, Coca-Cola has agreed to reduce the average calories in its sodas by 5 percent by the end of this year.

Coca-Cola has more than 100 years of experience fighting health crazes and government regulation campaigns. In 1906 the U.S. government sued the company in attempt to get it to abandon caffeine. (It lost.) In 1950, a Cornell professor named Clive McCay testified before a Congressional committee on food additives that Coke could eat through teeth. (Not true.) But so many drink choices are now available that Americans’ current move away from soda doesn’t appear to be temporary.

At the moment, Coke Life doesn’t have a U.S. debut date. Given the company’s heavy investment in stevia-based drinks—in 2007, Coca-Cola and Cargill teamed up to create Truvia, a consumer brand of stevia sweetener—it seems likely that the drink will soon see much wider release.

While Coke Life may in fact offer less sugar than regular soda and healthier sugar than both regular and diet soda, it still contains about 4 teaspoons of sugar in every can. That’s still too much when you consider the new recommendations of 6 teaspoons per day for men and 9 for women.

Step in the right direction? For some, maybe. But then there’s us. Here at, sugar is just part of our concerns — a big part, undoubtedly, but still only a part. At the end of the day, it will still be a Coke that’s sweetened differently. The changes in the ingredient list won’t go far enough. We’ll still be left with plenty of items on the ingredient list that we can’t bring ourselves to consume. Still soda. Still a problem.

High levels of carcinogen in Pepsi has always maintained that we can all find better beverages than soda. There are, in fact, beverages that don’t contain phosphoric acid or sodium benzoate or high fructose corn syrup or aspartame, or any of the other ingredients we find so disturbing that show up in soda ingredient lists. Caramel color is a controversial ingredient that you’ll find listed in cola ingredient lists (as well as any number of products in a variety of food and beverage categories). It’s an ingredient that should convince all of us to stay away from cola sodas all by itself.

There are four different types of caramel coloring – plain caramel, a type that reacts sugar with sulfites, a type that reacts sugars with ammonium and one that reacts sugars with both ammonium and sulfites (that’s the one used in most colas). Caramel coloring has been linked to raising blood pressure, possibly having a negative effect on the immune system and, most disturbingly, containing carcinogenic byproducts. And that’s what’s put it – and Pepsi — in the news.

Information has been released showing that currently the levels of 4-Mehtylimidazole (4-MEI) levels in Pepsi are anywhere from four to more than eight times higher than the California safety level in samples tested from ten different states. The independent testing was commissioned by the Center of Environmental Health. While the test results were actually an improvement from the levels found in Pepsi a year ago, the levels are still cause for concern.

Pepsi has responded to the Center of Environmental Health explaining that its caramel coloring suppliers have been working on the process of modifying the manufacturing process to reduce the amount of 4-MEI found in its soda. They are looking at February of 2014 as the date that the modified caramel coloring will be included in its products throughout the United States.

4-MEI is a chemical byproduct of the industrial production of caramel coloring. Last year a National Toxicology Program animal study found “clear evidence” that the chemical is a carcinogen. In response to those findings, California passed a law requiring soda manufacturers to include the cancer-causing ingredient on their labels. It was at that time that both Coke and Pepsi pledged to have their caramel coloring suppliers reformulate the ingredient they use in their sodas. The Center of Environmental Health’s recent testing found that Coca-Cola did a much better job of cleaning up their act than Pepsi.

While both have since posted improvements in the state of California, which means their levels of 4-MEI are now below California’s legal levels, CEH claims Pepsi still trails in other key markets around the U.S.

Most soda is a chemical concoction. There’s nothing nutritionally valuable about it. Some of the ingredients included in it are harsh enough to be used as cleaning agents. We’ve recently blogged about people who have only included soda in their diets for years having negative heart responses that cleared completely when they stopped drinking cola. The type of caramel coloring used in colas has now been linked fairly clearly with cancer. This particular testing information from the Center of Environmental Health is one more reason to stay away from cola. believes that it is our own nutritional awareness that will keep us safe and healthy as continue to focus on what’s really in our food and drink.

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Can your heart suffer from your soda consumption?

Today, learned that it very well could … especially if soda is the only liquid you choose to consume every single day for sixteen years.

A woman living in Monaco, near southern France, was taken to a hospital after fainting. She’s 31 years old and a blood test revealed that she had severely low potassium levels. Further testing of her heart’s electrical activity disclosed that she had a condition called long QT syndrome, causing erratic heart beats.

The doctors were perplexed as to why this otherwise healthy woman had heart problems and was fainting. She had no family history of heart difficulties. She didn’t have any hormone problems. Upon questioning her a little further, however, her doctors learned that she had not had any water to drink since the age of 15. Instead she consumed only cola every day – about two liters daily.

After just one week without cola, both the woman’s potassium levels and heart electrical activity returned to normal.

Researchers at the Princess Grace Hospital Center in Monaco went to work searching for similar cases, and surprisingly found six other reports where excessive cola consumption were linked to medical difficulties, including problems with heart rhythm. They noted that drinking too much cola can cause excess water to enter the bowels, leading to diarrhea, which causes a loss of potassium. In addition, high amounts of caffeine consumption can increase urine production and decrease potassium reabsorption. Low levels of potassium can cause problems with heart rhythm.

The researchers stated that cardiologists need to be made aware of the possible connection between cola consumption and potassium loss. Patients discovered to have long QT syndrome should be questioned about their beverage consumption. In addition, they are proposing future studies that will examine whether excessive cola drinkers have lower potassium levels than those who don’t drink cola.

Excessive soda consumption can also lead to weight gain, which is a risk factor for heart disease, the researchers said.

The case report was presented at the European Heart Rhythm Association meeting in Athens, Greece. It has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. certainly understands that this particular woman’s cola-drinking habit was quite extreme. But it clearly underscores the concept of soda as a generally unhealthy addition to our diet. Soda has certain inherent nutritional problems – most of the ingredients in any given brand aren’t natural, sugary soda contains high fructose corn syrup and plenty of it, diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners that are linked to a variety of different problems and there are a whole host of controversial items routinely included in soda ingredient lists. This story from Monaco seems to add a new problem directly related to soda consumption. While we recognize that most soda drinkers also consume water and other beverages, this story does stop and cause you to think even more carefully about your beverage habits. Nutritional awareness is so important for all of us … and it’s not just about our food choices, it’s about our beverage choices as well.