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Biotech Science

Some Soft Drinks May Damage Your DNA 643

Posted by Zonk
from the argh-my-mitochondria dept.
Parallax Blue writes "The Independent is reporting new findings that indicate a common additive called sodium benzoate, found in soft drinks such as Fanta and Pepsi Max among others, has the ability to switch off vital parts of DNA in a cell's mitochondria. From the article: 'The mitochondria consumes the oxygen to give you energy and if you damage it — as happens in a number of diseased states — then the cell starts to malfunction very seriously. And there is a whole array of diseases that are now being tied to damage to this DNA — Parkinson's and quite a lot of neuro-degenerative diseases, but above all the whole process of aging.' European Union MPs are now calling for an urgent investigation in the wake of these alarming new findings."
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Some Soft Drinks May Damage Your DNA

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  • by Walt Dismal (534799) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:39AM (#19289887)
    That's not all. It has been demonstrated that in drinks which also contain Vitamin C, the sodium benzoate combines with the vitamin and releases BENZENE. You really don't want to drink a lot of the carcinogen benzene. Google "sodium benzoate and Vitamin C" and see. Unfortunately, certain drink companies tout the Vitamin C in their beverages as being good for kids. Instead, it's poisoning them. Or you. Other drinks contain potassium benzoate and Vitamin C, but I'm not sure if this also produces benzene.
  • Re:Technical details (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nymz (905908) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:48AM (#19289937) Journal
    Benzene Production from Decarboxylation of Benzoic Acid in the Presence of Ascorbic Acid and a Transition-Metal Catalyst [commercialalert.org] (pdf warning) from Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, May 1993, Volume 41, Number 5
  • Re:nothing new (Score:3, Informative)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:52AM (#19289959) Journal
    damn it was ascorbic acid not citric... anyway here's the wiki link with a little more detail: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_benzoate [wikipedia.org]
  • Re:Technical details (Score:2, Informative)

    by arivanov (12034) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:06AM (#19290037) Homepage
    That is different, but even scarier.

    If you combine peroxides which always exist in trace quantities in mitohondria, ascorbic acid and benzoate in the presense of free (very few are free in a living tissue, most are helated by something) popular metal ions you get benzene which fucks with nearly anything in your body. Mutagen, changes in properties of proteins, etc. One good thing, is that this reaction is outside normal pH range as it is optimal at 2 and decreases to nearly 0 at 5.

    Still, the article quotes a number of others that discuss what happens in the 5+ pH range and the list of substances there is similarly obnoxious - phenol, diphenil stuff, etc.

    Gawd, do not care about eurocritters, but that by itself is enough to ban the stuff in my house. Funnily enough I loved fanta when I was a kid. It gives you this strange buzz which no other soda can do. Now I see why...
  • by cruachan (113813) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:07AM (#19290043)
    Not to say that there might not be an issue, but The Independent was the Newspaper that first ran the WiFi scare in the UK - a couple of weeks ago and well before the BBC - and last Sunday's scare in the paper was over baby alarms. Both pieces were examples of really bad science journalism with widespread scattering of the term 'radiation' throughout and cleverly writen to wrap as much scaremongering as possible up in pseudo-objective and precautionary language.

    Today's leader article is a classic 'For The Sake Of The Children' rant (http://comment.independent.co.uk/leading_articles /article2586569.ece)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:22AM (#19290093)
    Yeah that's great, but the water where I am is from a river where the male fish spontaneously start making eggs even though they are still male (they didn't change genders due to population pressure, they just started making eggs). Oh yeah, and there's lead in the water... so much that they govt sent out water filter kits.

    And pure water will kill you, because the minerals in your intestine's cells osmose out and they die.

    Leaving out the juice is crazy if you want to live healthy... you need to leave out the sugar-added juice.
  • by meekers (1105157) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @05:17AM (#19290345)
    While at one point it may have been thought that drinking milk contributed kidney stones, it is now thought that low-calcium diets can actually increase the risk of developing kidney stones. If you are going to avoid milk, do not avoid it for fear of developing kidney stones.

    In addition, I would be interested to know what causes you to believe that high fructose corn syrup, in particular HFCS 45 or HFCS 55, is "poison". While I have seen claims that it is harmful before, I have not been convinced that it is any worse than table sugar.
  • by Simpsoid (1087767) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @05:18AM (#19290351)
    Unfortunately I became relitavely addicted to Pepsi Max over the Christmas break just gone.

    Our local supermarket chain had them on sale for AU$7.95 for a 24 can carton.
    I bought like 8 cartons because it was so cheap.

    Since that ran out I relied on the competing chain of grocery stores to price match. Every few weeks one of the stores will have a sale on Pepsi (and its varieties). I now go week to week buying about 4 cartons and when I run out I wait till the next sale is on.

    I am a type 1 diabetic and have been for over 10 years, so I only get Pepsi Max. This seems to be some alarming news. I drink 2 or 3 cans every day and have since Christmas.
    I was always aware that carbonated drinks were not good for you. They tend to leech calcium from your bones as well as other unhealthy side effects.

    As someone previously posted though the no-sugar drinks don't mess with your blood glucose level. My body doesn't think that its about to have a sugary drink and release some more insulin (apart from the fact that it actually can't) it doesn't adversly affect me.

    It's horrible stuff and I'm going to ween myself off it after reading this.
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @05:23AM (#19290385)
    Drink Water or at worst carbonated water. Maybe a little tea or iced tea made from decent leaves (not the garbage leaves in lipton surrounded by bleached paper to dunk in water), or even a little expresso.

    Leave out the soda pop, leave out most of the milk (thought to contribute to kidney stones), leave out the juice, etcetera. And for god's sake leave out anything sweetened with high fructose corn syrup - poison. Our ancestors were able to make due with water as a drink and so our bodies should be acclimated to it.


    Oh, a little tea from decent leaves, not paper, paper's bad. Oh, I see, I see. You know, how bad for your life is when you die in a car crash, or a truck runs over you, or someone in a club beats you up and shoots you outside, or you fall from a bridge or whatever.

    Never go outside, man! NEVER! It's dangerous. Maybe, you know, open your window a little, so air comes inside, but not too much, since air in the city is bad.

    Or how about, instead of going all the way to the other extreme, just do things sensibly. I can guarantee you Pepsi MAX won't have profound effect on your health if you wouldn't drink ten gallons of it each day. I, for example, enjoy soft drinks in small quantities during weekends sometimes, or on a vacation, on the beach, or on a birthday party.

    Here's the truth: even water will "fuck up with your [whatever] levels" if used in excess. Did you know you could die from water poisoning? Should we eventually stop drinking water and maybe just absorb moisture from the air, like some small mammals do?

    USE EVERYTHING IN MODERATION.
  • Re:Frogurt (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @05:28AM (#19290395)
    "The fact is, we're living longer and healthier with all of this 'processed crap' than we ever did with 'good old food'."

    This statement bears repeating. While we may not be acting in what is the most ideally healthy way, our life expectancy has gone up, and continues to do so. In the last 100 years in the US, life expectancy at birth has gone from about 50 years (it varies with race and sex) to about 75 years. Talk about a significant improvement! You think that 25 used to literally be "mid life". Half your life was likely over by 25. These days we still think of 25 year olds as kids to a large extent.

    Now that's not to say that processed food is the reason for that, it's not, but clearly it isn't screwing us over as some would believe. People are living longer lives than ever before by a huge margin. It only gets bigger if you go back further.

    Also I get really annoyed with this attitude that natural = good. Some people seem to think that nature is somehow incapable of producing anything that can hurt us. Actually, when you get down to it, some of the most deadly things in history are purely natural. Great example would be the bubonic plague. Purely natural in origin, lethal to a great deal of humans.

    Just because something is natural (also that term is often used rather fast and loose) doesn't make it safe.
  • by MedicinalMan (1061338) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @05:46AM (#19290473)
    from 1990 until as recently as 2006. Here's a link [fda.gov] This has to do with benzene formation in the actual can of soda from ascorbic acid and benz. acid reacting due to heat/light. They decided the amount was too small to cause harm. The importance of the finding is that it seems to imply that benzoic acid/benzene are BOTH safe in small amounts. Or if you want, that only benzene in small amounts is safe. This argument altogether skips a little known property of molecules such as benzene known as "nonpolarity". The nonpolar benzene in soft drinks may enter gastrointestinal cells, but won't get very far since it is not soluble in water/blood. The benzoic acid is very much like certain pharmaceutical drugs in that it can be delivered as a "prodrug" (a pre-drug before the cell converts it to the actual drug). Basically my point is that this issue can be skirted by industry who claim the benzene/benz acid health effect was already dealt with, when it has not.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @05:58AM (#19290521)

    Diet Soda, it has been found in a European study (German?) to fuck with your blood sugar level - the body thinks it's getting sugar, pumps you with insulin, and it turns out you aren't getting any.
    If you want to make an outrageous claim like that, you had better back it up. All of the diabetics I know regularly drink diet soda without any significant impact on their insulin levels. If there was, they would know about it.
  • by jez9999 (618189) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @06:08AM (#19290579) Homepage Journal
    Did you know you could die from water poisoning?

    Yep. [wikipedia.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2007 @06:16AM (#19290617)
    And most of the non-diabetics I know don't drink soft drinks regularly. Make your own conclusions. Or better yet, don't make conclusions based on "the people you know".

    Matt Stat,
    from Statville
  • by dltaylor (7510) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @06:18AM (#19290621)
    I have found two real (according to the Germans) beers at Trader Joe's that are essentially alcohol-free and that we like. "Clausthaler" http://us.clausthaler.com/ [clausthaler.com] has two flavors (we prefer the amber). There are others that we have also found consumable: "Haake Beck" and "Sharp's". Calories are in the range of sugared drinks, so you don't want to load up on them unless you burn it off, but definitely preferable to "corn syrup" or sugar substitutes in soft drinks.
  • by Winckle (870180) <mark@@@winckle...co...uk> on Sunday May 27, 2007 @06:21AM (#19290643) Homepage
    Diabetics are UNABLE to produce ANY insulin, the study showed that it fucks with the insulin levels in healthy people, with pancreases that can produce insulin in the first place.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2007 @06:34AM (#19290703)
    If it tastes like bitter muddy crap then you're making it wrong. Try a really good espresso (if you live in America, you may have to emigrate).
  • by JRIsidore (524392) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @06:35AM (#19290707)
    Maybe because with diabetes the insulin level is the very problem. People with type 1 diabetes can't produce enough insulin and the level is therefore controlled by regular injections, not the body itself. Type 2 is an insulin resistance, so even if the levels rise due to drinking diet soda it might not have any effect. But this is just my guess...

    I heard of that effect, too. When eating sweet food the tongue registeres this and the pancreas reacts with increased insulin production. This effect has been confirmed in rats: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd= Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=2887500&dopt=Abstract [nih.gov]
  • Coca-Cola Zero (Score:5, Informative)

    by dysfunct (940221) * on Sunday May 27, 2007 @06:37AM (#19290719)
    If anybody's interested: There's currently quite a number of marketing campaigns across of Europe for the new Coca-Cola Zero. According to its Wikipedia's entry [wikipedia.org], the product can contain sodium benzoate depending on the country where it's sold. If you're cautious and want to be on the safe side, you might want to stick to regular Coca Cola or Diet Coke which appear not to contain this stuff.
  • Re:Frogurt (Score:5, Informative)

    by hankwang (413283) * on Sunday May 27, 2007 @07:18AM (#19290857) Homepage

    life expectancy at birth has gone from about 50 years [...] You think that 25 used to literally be "mid life". Half your life was likely over by 25.

    Life expectancy at birth includes child diseases that killed about 20% of the children before the age of 5. See page 6, fig 3 of the US life tables. [cdc.gov] Once you survived the first few years of your life, your life expectancy would increase considerably. See page 30 of the report: at the age of 25, your life expectancy was 65. Your midlife would be around the age of 34. Nowadays, the life expectancy only increases from 77.5 to 78.5 years between the age of 0 and 25 years.

  • by Mprx (82435) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @07:19AM (#19290863)
    Nonsense, distilled water is perfectly safe to drink:
    http://yarchive.net/med/osmotic_damage.html [yarchive.net]
  • by hey! (33014) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @08:50AM (#19291325) Homepage Journal
    An acquaintence of mine is a neuroscient. She won't touch Aspartame, because she says there are so many side effects, many of them neurological.

    In 1980, Aspartame failed to achieve FDA approval. However, this decision was reversed under a new, Reagan appointed commissioner it was approved. Subsequently it was the leading cause of FDA complaints for adverse reactions (in part this was due to its common use), until the FDA decided to stop counting them.

    It is probably true that most people are OK with it in modest quantities. But people should use it with caution and be on the lookout for complications.
  • by KDR_11k (778916) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @08:59AM (#19291373)
    Um, you know that there's more than one type of diabetes, right?
  • by DougWebb (178910) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @09:28AM (#19291517) Homepage
    Wendy's deli sandwiches are pretty good, and they offer naked potatoes too. That's really not bad, especially for a fast food joint.

  • by sadler121 (735320) <msadler@gmail.com> on Sunday May 27, 2007 @10:24AM (#19291825) Homepage

    Juices are also OK if drunk in moderation.

    If you goto a grocery store in the US, and look at the "juices" 99% of them have no greater than ~30% "juice". Most of what makes up the "juice" is high fructose corn syrup, that yucky Type II Diabetes enabling crap. It is hard to find, but you can find the 100% juice stuff which has the natural sugers that are easier for you body to digest.

    Actually, pure unmineralized water is not very good in combating thirst - your body loses salts with sweat so unmineralized water causes electrolyte imbalance.

    Cause we all know electrolyte's [imdb.com] are good for everything!
  • by AI0867 (868277) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @10:51AM (#19291955)
    Netherlands, no E21* here.
  • by vivIsel (450550) <paul AT selker DOT com> on Sunday May 27, 2007 @11:01AM (#19292023)
    I agree with some of this, typos--it's espresso, not expresso, for one--not withstanding. A few things, though:

    1) Many of our ancestors didn't make do with water. Actually, it made a lot of them very sick, because it couldn't be sanitized efficiently. To stay healthy, they turned to alcohol. (ha!) I agree that we should have more water drinkers, but on the historical point I take issue. Water hasn't always been mankind's cup of tea. So to speak. (:

    2) I think the kidney stones-milk connection is a very dubious one, which basically rests on the assertion that "AHHH KIDNEY STONES CONTAIN CALCIUM AND SO DOES MILK WHAT WILL I DO?!?!" And while it's true that both things contain lots of calcium, the only people I'd advise to stay away from milk on that account would be people who have kidney stones. Otherwise it's just scare tactics. Unless you can show me some (peer-reviewed, major journal published) evidence to the contrary.

    3) Unless you're hypertensive, there's nothing particularly wrong with a *lot* of espresso. Except that it dehydrates you a bit. People have been trying to spoil coffee for the masses with damning scientific evidence for years now, and it seems that it just isn't there. (:

    4) Don't leave out all of the juice! Sure, a glass of good orange juice has a lot of sugar, but it's not artificial. It's got plenty of good stuff too. One should be moderate with it, but one should be moderate with everything!

  • by pirho666 (153073) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @12:30PM (#19292649)
    This is the problem with the state of science education in the world. I had hoped it was better in the EU than in the US, but obviously this isnt the case. Benzene itself is regulated and has been shown to cause certain forms of cancer. This is mainly due to the problems with enzymatic oxidation to allow for excretion of the benzene. Benzoate is NOT BENZENE! If you were to make everything that has an aromatic ring illegal you couldn't sell meat as the proteins contain a large amount of phenylalanine, which has a benzyl group> Oh my you would also have to be made illegal because you have a lot of phe as well.

    Please learn something about chemistry before you start to talk about chemicals.

    (Note I am not saying that sodiumbenzoate is a good thing but it isnt benzene.)
  • by GnomeChompsky (950296) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @12:32PM (#19292661)
    but it sounds to me as though your body was accustomed ("conditioned") to getting a sugar rush whenever it consumed soda, and prepared for it even when you were drinking diet soda, which contains no sugar. Your body adapts to expected influxes of blood-glucose by increasing insulin production - BEFORE the intake of the expected substance. If you don't ACTUALLY ingest any sugar, then the insulin works on the sugar already present in your blood and you wind up feeling AWFUL.

    It's kind of the same reason you get headaches if you skip meals, or have them at later times; or why eating a snack at an unexpected time when you're not really hungry will make you feel nauseous. The unpleasant side of hunger isn't because your body doesn't have enough energy to sustain itself - you're made up of meat, for god's sake, you have enough stored calories to go on for a very long time without eating - it's just because it's preparing for an expected meal and if you don't get it, in the short term it depletes the nutrients from your bloodstream.
  • by Evilest Doer (969227) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @01:34PM (#19293085)

    Sorry, but how can anyone drink that crap?
    Well, you probably didn't try *good* coffee. Good coffee doesn't need milk or sugar. Your comment reminds me of a friend of mine who said he hated beer because he tried it once and it tasted the way he would imagine flat horse piss tastes. I asked him what kind he tried, and he said "Budweiser". After my initial shriek of horror, I explained that this is why he hates "beer" and he should try some of the real stuff instead.

    BTW, I think it's hilarious someone modded you "Troll". It looks like some slashdotters are pretty touchy about their coffee :-p

  • by Bamafan77 (565893) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @02:00PM (#19293279)

    It is a well known fact in science that depriving yourself of calories (1200-1400 a day for a sedentary lifestyle instead of 2000) is one of the surest ways of extending your life and living healthy. That means kicking out caloric drinks.

    Look it up.

    Look what up? This is the Age of the Internet man, with hyperlinking! Throw us a bone, especially when making claims about scienfitic studies that seem like they could be interesting if we only knew where to look.

    Anyway I'll let you off easy this time and do it for you [berkeley.edu]. :) Very interesting study btw. I've always suspected that we probably don't actually need to eat every single day. This study shows that not only is it not needed, but it could actually be detrimental.

  • by Zonk (troll) (1026140) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @02:24PM (#19293459)
    By comparing Budweiser to flat horse piss you're insulting flat horse piss.
  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:01PM (#19293725)
    boiling some sliced ginger root, adding sugar cane juice, and then compressed gas.
  • by bumby (589283) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @06:07PM (#19295057)
    Sweden:
    E211 in: Coke zero, Coka-cola light and fanta
  • by lgordon (103004) <larry...gordon@@@gmail...com> on Sunday May 27, 2007 @09:46PM (#19296477) Journal
    Type 1 diabetes is an insulin production problem. Type 2 diabetes is an inability to correctly process insulin that is produced.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @10:08PM (#19296643) Homepage
    Excuse me? so you are saying that ALL diabetics cant produce any insulin?

    Where the hell do you get such a wild ass claim such as that? please cite me sources to your information as I know for a fact that you are incredibly wrong.

    Type 1 Diabetes has that problem, Type 2 can have varying states from low levels they create to even the horrible version where they produce erratic levels.

    how about the hypoglycemic people? they dont have the problem when consuming Diet sodas. both the Aspertame and Splenda based sweeteners.

    I know this for a FACT as I AM hypoglycemic. If I take a drink of a regular coke I can monitor my blood sugar levels and watch the mess that happens. while the same thign with diet soads has ZERO effect. ZERO. I get no drastic drop as my body produces insulin to take out the imaginary sugars.
  • Born Yesterday. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Monday May 28, 2007 @01:38AM (#19297663)
    Aspartame scare is an urban legend, dude.

    I read the article you linked to. All it did was refute an internet chain letter. So what? Even though he danced around the fact, the author even conceded that there were known problems with Aspartame. He even snidely commented. . .

    "A recent MIT study reaffirms that aspartame is harmless for most users, but again, skeptics will object that the research was funded by a grant from the NutraSweet Company and therefore cannot be trusted."

    Well, yes, actually, the fact that a lab is funded by the same people who are suspected of poisoning the public is indeed a very good reason to not trust the results. Was the author born yesterday?

    Just because one concerned truth-seeker comes off as sounding hysterical, it does not mean that a toxic substance is suddenly not toxic.


    -FL

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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