Soda—especially diet soda—has taken some hard hits in the past week. First, a study presented at the 2011 International Stroke Conference in L.A. last week found that people who drink at least one diet soda a day have a 48 percent higher risk of a heart attack, stroke or other potentially fatal cardiac problem than those who drink normal soda or no soda at all. For now, researchers don’t know what causes the results—they just know that diet soda puts your heart at risk.
Diet sodas have been linked to a 48 percent higher risk for heart attacks and stroke. Photo By Roadsidepictures/Courtesy Flickr.
If the Center for Science in Public Interest is right however, drinking regular soda won’t save you from any harm. The CSPI, a healthy lobby group, released a statement this week urging the government to ban two types of caramel coloring used in soft drinks that the organization believes causes cancer. While true caramel is made by heating sugar, the “caramel” found in many soft drinks is made by mixing sugar with ammonia, which results in a chemical reaction that produces known carcinogens. Of the four types of caramel coloring used in sodas, two are made with ammonia: 4-MEI and 2-MEI. The soda industry responded by stating that the caramel used in their soft drinks does not cause cancer.
Outside researchers have acknowledged that both sides are partially right, noting that while some sodas do contain cancer-causing agents, they have such low concentrations that a person would have to drink more than a thousand sodas a day to develop cancer. Still, the CSPI’s statement brings to light a valid point: who wants to drink a beverage made with ammonia?
These new findings are only two more additions to soda’s long list of health risks. Other concerns include the phosphate levels in soda, which speed up the aging process and shave years off our lives, and the acid in sodas, which eats away at bone density.