Some scientists now believe that soda pop may lead to cirrhosis of the liver and degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease. A report in Britain’s Independent says the preservative sodium benzoate may be the cause of the harm that soda may cause. The preservative is found in all kinds of soda pop, including popular drinks such as Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta, and Diet Pepsi. According to the article, the preservative may switch off vital parts of DNA in humans.
The problem is more typically associated with aging and alcohol abuse.
Hundreds of millions of people worldwide drink soda pop. Food additives have also been linked to hyperactivity in children.
Sodium benzoate is also known as E211. It has been used for decades by the manufacturers of carbonated drinks. The preservative is derived from benzoic acid, which occurs naturally in berries. It is used in large quantities in soft drinks to prevent mould. The preservative in pop, which some scientists may lead to cirrhosis of the liver and Parkinson’s, is also used in pickles and sauces.
Scientists have also been concerned sodium benzoate may cause cancer. That is because when it is linked with vitamin C in soft drinks, it causes benzene, a carcinogenic substance. A survey of benzene in drinks last year found four brands which were removed from sale.
Professor Peter Piper, an expert at Sheffield University, has been studying benzene since 1999. He now believes benzene has the ability to severely damage DNA in the “power station” cells in the human body known as mitochondria. The damage can be so bad it can shut the DNA down.
Professor Piper says the mitochondria consume the oxygen to give people energy. If it is damaged or diseased, then the cell starts to malfunction. Parkinson’s has been tied to just such a kind of damage. Other neurological diseases have been tied to such damage-all related to the aging process.
A government agency in Great Britain, the Food Standards Agency, has backed the use of sodium benzoate, but Norman Baker, a member of the British Parliament has called for more investigation.
A study of sodium benzoate, which some scientists believe in pop may cause Parkinson’s and cirrhosis of the liver, by the World Health Organization in 2000, found it to be safe. The study also found that there was not enough information to be certain of the effect of the preservative, however.
Professor Piper said studies by the United States Food and Drug Administration of the preservative were out of date.
Professor Piper caused parents to be careful of letting their children drink large amounts of soda pop. The makers of various kinds of soda pop in Great Britain said they have trusted their products are safe from cirrohsis of the liver, Parkinson’s, or other health problems, because they trusted government reports about sodium benzoate.