Coke and Pepsi Pose Cancer Risks?

As Americans continue to suck at the teat of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, the Center for Science in the Public Interest keeps finding new ways to scare the high-fructose corn syrup out of us. Their latest salvo: Soda is basically liquid cancer.

According to Food Safety News, an independent study commissioned by the CSPI found that Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, and Diet Pepsi contained unsafe levels of 4-methylimidazole (4-MI). Why is 4-MI, a chemical that has been shown to cause cancer in lab animals, in bottles of soda? Because it's a by-product of the reaction that creates caramel coloring in brown sodas.

[Update 3/7/12: Coca-Cola, while contending that caramel coloring has never posed a risk, says it's already begun switching to a new, low-4-MI formula.]

The CPSI's study concluded that the levels of 4-MI lurking in Coke and Pepsi could lead to a lifetime risk of 5 cancers in 100,000, assuming you drink just one soda per day. The Food and Drug Administration sought to calm fears today, telling Reuters that, while it's looking into the CSPI's findings, you'd have to drink a thousand cans of Coke per day to reach lab-rat-level risk. All of which may make you long for the relatively innocent days when all you had to worry about was BVO in Mountain Dew.

Soda isn't the day's only liquid culprit. There's also juice, which, according to the New York Times, is partly responsible for the recent spike in preschoolers with cavities. Dentists around the country are treating kids with 6 to 10 cavities, a problem for all income levels. Rich or poor, parents are sating their wee ones with a steady stream of snacks and juice (five years ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted a rise in cavities among preschoolers for the first time in 40 years). Part of the increase has to do with parents who don't want to deal with brushing their screaming toddlers' teeth.

Between the cavities and the cancer, bottled drinks aren't having the most flattering week.

See also: Worries Spew Over Chemicals in Soda

Image source: Flickr member $holydevil under Creative Commons

Rebecca Flint Marx eats and writes in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter. Follow CHOW, too, and become a fan on Facebook.