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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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    • profile image

      punk 5 years ago

      I just stumbled upon this article and I know this is a old post but just to clear somethings up.

      Genetically modifying food is one of the first things humans learned how to do. carrot use to come in all sort of colors but mostly in purple. Farmers in the Netherlands Genetically modified them to honer the "House of Orange" the royal family at the time. If you are having beef for dinner tonight and It didn't come from a auroch then you are eating Genetically modified food. Science is doing what use to take farms years to do. Don't sweet it.

    • profile image

      sahaj 7 years ago

      soft drinks are very bad for our teeths,lungs&kidney

    • profile image

      vivekanandan 7 years ago

      i like to do this job how

    • profile image

      DNA 7 years ago

      This is shocking to know about that drinking soft drinks Can Damage DNA. I have heard many health drinking soft drinks but this is quite shocking that it can damage DNA.

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 10 years ago from Around the USA

      Counterpunch, I agree that genetically modified 'food' sure doesn't seem like a good idea.

    • thecounterpunch profile image

      thecounterpunch 10 years ago

      There are a lot of things which can cause cancer. And IF we accept Genetically Modified Foods it can only be worse:

      all the more worse that the FDA now considers that "if the Multi-Nationals consider GMO as safe so it must be and there's no need to test."

      So soft drinks are merely a tiny problem compared to GMF our Food in the future.

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 10 years ago from Around the USA

      Cgull8- I also have heard of soft drinks causing cancer in rats. Scary.

      Isabella- Whoa is right!

      Stacie- I have read many studies on the effects of diet on children's health and even brain development/IQ. Did you know that most teens nowadays already show signs of heart disease? It's not really difficult with children if you never let them have the junk food to begin with. I didn't have junk food and sweets around the house when mine were growing up. And they rarely eat junk now that they are (almost) grown. But, I had an addiction to soft drinks, so that was another story. And now one of my kids also drinks them a lot. But she's seriously cutting back now.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 10 years ago from Seattle

      Hm, interesting. I had already decided that my children, when I have them, won't drink soda, eat fastfood, and I'm going to try to keep their diets full of whole foods--they can choose to eat crap when they are older if they want, but I'm going to try to give them the healthiest diets possible while I can.

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 10 years ago


    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 10 years ago from North Carolina

      Great hub, soft drinks I heard before they cause cancer in rats, better they drink fruit drinks than these, there is nothing healthy in Coca-cola or Pepsi.