A new study has cautioned against excessive and regular drinking of soft drinks, saying those who consume one or more cold drinks cans a day are getting exposed to a potential carcinogen.
According to the scientists, caramel colour releases a possible human carcinogen called 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) during its production. Caramel colour is an important and common ingredient of colas and other dark soft drinks.
Consumer Reports conducted the study and found that people in the United States on average consume enough soda that put them at cancer risk from the sugary beverages.
Study lead author Keeve Nachman said, “Soft drink consumers are being exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary cancer risk from an ingredient that is being added to these beverages simply for aesthetic purposes.”
The researchers analysed the concentrations of 4-MEI in 11 different soft drinks, which was first published by 2014 Consumer Reports, and estimated exposure to 4-MEI from the drinks coloured with caramel. The research group further modelled the potential cancer burden associated with the routine soft drink consumption levels in America.
Nachman, of Johns Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future (CLF), said, “The unnecessary exposure to 4-MEI poses a threat to public health and raises questions about the continued use of caramel colouring in soda.”
The glaring findings suggested that 4-MEI levels could substantially vary across samples, even in case of the same type of beverage.
Currently, the federal government has not proposed any limits for 4-MEI in beverages or food.
Observing the potential threat of 4-MEI, Consumer Reports has sought the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year to set the limits for the potential carcinogen.
The findings of the study were detailed online in the journal PLOS One.