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Drinking Soft Drinks Can Damage DNA in Children

Updated on June 16, 2011
All Types of Soft Drinks- Cola, Citrus, Orange & More
All Types of Soft Drinks- Cola, Citrus, Orange & More

Yet Another Reason Why Soft Drinks Are Bad, Especially for Children

It appears that there is yet another reason to limit or completely restrict your children from drinking soft drinks, reports the Irish Independent. The preservatives in soft drinks may damage children's DNA and cause damage similar to people who drink too much alcohol, according to a study conducted by Sheffield University in the UK.

What Are Soda Side Effects in Children?

Drinking the soft drinks with the preservatives causes distinct reactions in some children. The side effects from drinking soft drinks in children may range from an itchy rash to headaches to behavioral problems. It is thought that longtime use of sodas containing sodium benzoate could even lead to diseases such as Parkinson's disease or liver cirrhosis.

Why Is Soda Bad for Children?

According to the Irish Independent, the culprit in soft drinks is the preservative E211, also called sodium benzoate. Previous research shows that when sodium benzoate is mixed with another popular additive in soft drinks, ascorbic acid, it causes a chemical reaction which produces benzene. Ascorbic acid is vitamin C. Benzene is a commonly known carcinogenic chemical.

When the UK's Food Standards Agency (similar to the United States FDA) tested 150 soft drink samples, some soft drinks had up to three times the acceptable limit of benzene allowed by the World Health Organization. Most of the soft drink samples, however, contained little to no detectable amounts of benzene.

How Does Sodium Benzoate Affect DNA?

Professor Piper of Sheffield University, stated that sodium benzoate can destroy the DNA in living cells. The DNA is located in the mitochondria of cells. Mitochondria consume oxygen to help give a person energy. Sodium benzoate can totally inactivate mitochondria.

In lab tests sodium benzoate produced free radicals which caused the DNA damage to cells. The process is called oxidative damage. It is the same type of damage that occurs when a person overindulges in alcohol or the normal process that occurs as a person ages.

Sodium Benzoate in Other Foods

This isn't the first time that sodium benzoate has been in the spotlight. Just last year, reported that the soft drink industry was aware of the potential effects of mixing sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid- the possible formation of benzene, which can cause cancer.

Sodium benzoate has been used for many years in the soft drink industry. Sodium benzoate is also used in salad dressings, barbecue sauces, pickles, jams and jellies, and fruit juices. Sodium benzoate is derived from benzoic acid. Benzoic acid is found naturally in berries, cinnamon, and apples.

Soft Drink and Soda Manufacturers' Responses

Soft drink manufacturers responded by stating that their products are completely safe. They cite the tests by government regulating agencies that preservatives must pass in order to be allowed in food.

Even so, many soft drink manufacturers are starting to remove many preservatives and other additives from their products. The soft drink manufacturers contend that they are removing the artificial additives because of requests from the public, and not because of any health concerns.

Hickman, Martin. "Caution: Some soft drinks may seriously harm your health.'" Irish Independent

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