Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Biotech Science

Some Soft Drinks May Damage Your DNA 643

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Some Soft Drinks May Damage Your DNA

Comments Filter:
  • by pcmanjon ( 735165 ) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:38AM (#19289883)
    It's very similar to aspartame and the FDA's total refusal to do anything about it.

    Brain tumors and seizures in aspartame-fed animals indicate a possible risk to humans. The dictionary definition of safe means "not presenting or involving any danger or risk" (Webster's 877). Does this mean aspartame is not safe?

    Although aspartame was not tested on humans before its approval, it now has been tested on the public by default. All kinds of Americans eat aspartame products every day. We have been the guinea pigs in the testing of aspartame without even knowing it. A look at aspartame's ingredients and its devastating effects on human beings provide the evidence for avoiding all aspartame products.

    Too bad the FDA doesn't ban it, isn't it? I avoid any product with this ingredient like a plague.
  • by hazem ( 472289 ) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:00AM (#19290005) Journal
    When I was in the army, I was in a unit where we didn't run as much as I was used to and I was gaining weight. So I started drinking diet sodas instead of regular sodas. About that time, I started getting horrendous headaches.

    One day in the chow hall, the TV showed an article from Duke University (nearby, I was in North Carolina) that covered Aspertame triggering migraines. So, I conducted my own little experiment. Some days I would drink normal fattening soda. No headaches. Then I would drink diet soda - and terrible headaches.

    I started noticing other things - if I got bad headeaches, I would track back to see what I ate/drank. Sometimes, it was something like a gum (so many have aspartame to be safe for the teeth).

    So for many years, I did what I could to avoid Aspartame. In the last 6 months, I took it a step further and have eliminated MSG and High Fructose Corn Syrup. I occasionally crave a soda but that's rare now. The cool part is that I FEEL so much better. Not just headaches, but now that fuzziness and "hot flash" feeling I'd get in the afternoons is gone.

    And I've eliminated all fast food except the local Burgerville. I can't stand to touch McDonalds, Taco Bell, or Wendy's now. When I've succumbed to a craving, I felt like crap.

    I either eat organic/natural, at local places that prepare such food, and my addiction of choice now is tea with a bit of organic sugar for sweetener.

    I might not live any longer for it, but I FEEL much better for the time I am alive.
  • by Greg_D ( 138979 ) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:46AM (#19290213)
    ... to Coca Cola. That was after growing up for 21 years in which cola was a treat that almost never found its way into my family's household.

    Sugar? Check.
    Caffeine? Check.
    Citrus flavor? Check.

    But the main thing that I loved above all else was the bite from the fizz. After I realized this, I made a quick switch to seltzer water with a lemon or lime wedge and sometimes some crushed mint. I get the same bite, but without all that extra stuff.

    Dropped 30lbs in 3 months after that switch.
  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @04:55AM (#19290257) Journal
    If you're that afraid of pure water, just take it with a pinch of salt ;).

    I'd take my chances with pure water over most of the other stuff people are drinking.

    The other drinks proven to be ok/good for health are: green tea (without milk!), and black coffee (without milk as well!). Just reduce the sugar by a lot.

    As for fruit juices, most usually have too much sugar, so they should be reserved as a treat.
  • by Bryan Ischo ( 893 ) * on Sunday May 27, 2007 @05:38AM (#19290443) Homepage
    I drink or eat anything I want to, and none if it ever gives me headaches or causes any other physical problems. I honestly don't know what is up with all of the people who claim sensitivity to this or that or the other thing. I guess it's really true and I feel bad for you. But the insinuation that these chemicals are damaging and cause problems for everyone, is false. In fact I would venture a guess that the people who have bad experiences with these substances are very much in the minority, otherwise these problems would be much more recognized and accepted.

    I drank only water (no soft drinks, juices, milk, or any other substance) for about 3 years. It was a new year's resolution one year to stop drinking sugary drinks, and I like it so much that I kept it up for 3 years. While I felt good about it and enjoyed the act of keeping such a strict rule for myself, and got some satisfaction out of the process, it didn't make one difference in how I felt, or in my general health. The only big change was when I lived in China for 9 months and lost 15 pounds without even trying, just because the food was so much healthier (no ice creams or cookies or cakes or pies or any kind of junk food really). I promptly gained it all back when I returned to the USA.

    However, even though I lost that weight in China, I felt no better or worse than I did back in the USA once I gained it back.

    I have no food allergies of any kind, or lactose intolerance. I can drink soft drinks with aspartame/saccharine/sorbitol/whatever, eat MSG (I love the stuff, it makes food taste so goood!), white flour, processed sugar, anything and everything. And I feel fine and am generally healthy (although 10 lbs over my ideal weight and suffering from lack of exercise).
  • I think what people need to realize is that biology is a highly variable science. What's true for one person isn't necessarily true for another.

    A lot of people aren't bothered by aspartame, but that shouldn't be construed to mean that everyone can handle it. For example, my body has problems with aspartame, and I know the exact reasons for those problems after consulting with my physician, but I make sure that other people understand that that's only true for me and a small minority of the rest of the human population, but is by no means true for everyone--not even close.

    People need to consult with their own physician, and monitor their own health to get a good understanding of their bodies and how it works.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2007 @08:27AM (#19291211)
    But the insinuation that these chemicals are damaging and cause problems for everyone, is false. In fact I would venture a guess that the people who have bad experiences with these substances are very much in the minority, otherwise these problems would be much more recognized and accepted.

    Err, the problems with aspartame were widely recognized and accepted, it was railroaded through the FDA anyway. The FDA took 8 years to approve it because it was causing seizures and tumors in lab animals, when it was finally approved despite the panel's recommendation by the outgoing head of the FDA just as he was taking a job with Searle, who had invented it.

    I'm sure you'll ask me to check the tinfoil hat at the door, but seriously, if the FDA refuses to approve an item for 8 years and then just happens to reverse its decision just as the guy with the rubber stamp takes a nice cozy job with the company, alarm bells should be ringing.
  • Re:Frogurt (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Snaller ( 147050 ) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @08:43AM (#19291287) Journal
    "The fact is, we're living longer and healthier with all of this "processed crap" than we ever did with "good old food". "

    Actually no, that's not a fact - remember there is "life lag", the numbers we look at are always 60-70 years behind. The people who die now eat their stuff a long time ago. And many scientists are thinking the curve will drop drastically in the future because of the crap people eat now - the obesity-related diseases in the west have exploded with a ton of related ilnesses.

    "This is what gets me about GMO opponents - they fail to understand that there is a significant proportion of the world that would kill for ANY semblence of nutrition."

    And why is that? Because the rich west don't give a shit about them. When you get right down to it, most people don't care about the next guy - let him die. Which is also why its dangerous chemically added stuff, who cares if you bump off some people - as long as there are enough left to buy it!
  • Re:Shit.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Wooden Badger ( 540258 ) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @09:27AM (#19291509) Homepage Journal
    Caffeine may be a problem for the DNA as well. Its chemical structure is very similar to the nucleotide bases in DNA. I would bet that caffeine stands a decent chance of being substituted for one of the original bases in a newly replicated strand of DNA. It would probably just not be able to replicate, but it could also give rise to cancer. I recall a study where caffeine consumption was linked to cancer, but the study was done at BYU, so there would at least be a public perception of bias. Whether the study was solid or not, I don't know if any further research was done.
  • by CustomDesigned ( 250089 ) <> on Sunday May 27, 2007 @09:30AM (#19291533) Homepage Journal
    I think that there is more danger in the trip to the grocery store wit your car, than there is in the additives in the soda pop you buy there.

    Driving your car is a simple danger. You know immediately upon arrival whether you dodged that 2 ton bullet. However, you won't know for 10 years whether that hamburger you ate gave you mad cow disease. I won't know for 30 years whether the orange soil (containing natural asbestos) construction sites in my area has given me lung cancer (and the companies responsible for digging up the stuff will be out of business, so I won't be able to sue them). Apparently you have to wait 40 years before you know whether the sodium benzoate you are drinking gave you parkinsons. (I gave up sodas for unsweetened green tea 10 years ago because the concentrated sugar/corn syrup alone was killing me in much more immediately noticeable ways.)

    I find simple dangers much easier to handle than complex ones. Our area (Virgina) has Lyme disease and copperhead snakes. You won't know for a year whether an unnoticed tick from your walk in the woods gave you Lyme disease - a life long debilitating illness. But you know right away whether a snake bit you. The complex dangers just pile up in my mind with no resolution, causing a general background of stress of worry. The simple dangers cause momentary stress that is soon resolved, leaving a feeling of relief. I can see getting addicted to simple dangers just to experience the relief at the end.

  • by B5_geek ( 638928 ) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @10:57AM (#19291987)
    I was in addicted to the stuff too, I was drinking upto 6L per day. I stopped drinking it (when I went on the Atkins diet) and lost 40 pounds in my first month.

  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Sunday May 27, 2007 @01:35PM (#19293091) Homepage Journal

    I won't know for 30 years whether the orange soil (containing natural asbestos) construction sites in my area has given me lung cancer (and the companies responsible for digging up the stuff will be out of business, so I won't be able to sue them).

    You know, screw you. Everyone does something that could potentially harm someone else, from the dairy stocker that moves too slow and lets a couple of bacteria grow in a jug of milk, to the people who design keyboards that don't actively fight carpal tunnel syndrome. I don't care what you do for a living - you've caused harm or allowed harm to be caused either accidentally, unknowingly, or purposefully. So on behalf of everyone you may eventually want to sue for some real or perceived malady, kiss my ass, hypocrite.

    Sorry, I know this is off-topic but whenever I see someone with their finger on the lawyer trigger, my first instinct is to kick them in the butt. I just don't have any tolerance for people who are so desperate to be a paid victim that they don't care how badly they destroy our society in the process.

  • oh please (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 27, 2007 @02:12PM (#19293355)
    There is so little actual "food" in soda it's embarrassing to think that it could be possibly be good for you to drink. Is there something about raw poisonous chemicals you fail to understand? You don't need "peer review" beyond human history, we are totally designed to consume FOOD, not non food. It's only in the last century we've been eating non-food stuff, and we've had an explosion in strange diseases that humans hardly ever got before right along with it.. Food is food, non food is non food, there, peer review that DATA. Your body has no "minimal daily requirement" of red dye or sodium benzoate or any other of that crap, including the sprays they spray on fruits and vegetables. Just the other day a conference in the faroe islands had a shed pot of chemists, environmentalists and pediatricians give a really strong public warning about mothers and their unborn, telling them that the levels of so called "acceptable" exposure to "non food" is way way way way too high, the evidence is simply overhwleming, it causes permanent damage to kids in a variety of ways and possibly even generational damage, just like this soda study. And that's because it's NON FOOD. And it's as freaking obvious to anyone with a room temperature IQ as "bullet to the head, what are the acceptable levels?" It's retarded. Non-food is poisonous,it's toxic, any amount is toxic, different people have different levels at where they show *severe* outward effects from non-food, that's the only variable. Non food is designed to make fatcats more money, not for any "added nutritional value". That recent chinese dogfood crap should be sufficient a clue, melamine is "non food" it adds nothing by artifically bump up the cheapest protein test to make it "appear' to be better, but it actually made a lot of dogs and cats sick or dead. Non-food tends to accumulate in the body as well, humans are actually toxic to eat should some grizzly bear eat you, because of all the non-food we eat now.

    As to our ancestors, if you throw out first year of life from birth deaths, they lived to be pretty old. And that's because they didn't eat a lot of non-food, because it didn't exist. Evolution works, over millenia we have become adapted to "food", no way in heck have humans "evolved" to be able to safely digest "non food" right now, it makes folks sick, the levels of sickness vary, and that's it. I know I've helped several sets of parents who hasd "problem kids" with ADD and I go over to their house and EVERYTHING they eat has non food in it. the ones who actually grok what I tell them and chuck out most of that stuff and go to eating FOOD have all had a remarkable turn around in their kids behwavior, and no ritalin needed then. Non food is not food, just believe it, it's raw data, easy to understand. A lady I used to work for was getting "MS", had to use a walker or w wheelchair, getting to the point she couldn't type well enough to keep running her business. thousands and thousands of dollrs to the doctors, who have 6 hours total nutrinal training on average, 6! As in "hardly anything at all", they push pills, that's it mostly. So anyway, I noticed she slammed down near a 12 pack a day of diet soda,pepsi actually, I told her to cut that stuff out if she didn't want to be cripled up, showed her some papers, she stopped it cold as a "trial", and had a "mysterious remission". Her doc "astounded" and stuff. Uh huh. It's because she cut out a lot of the non-food in her diet which is toxic. After the soda she started looking at all the other crap she ate, it all toxins in it.

        It all adds up, this cheeto, that twinkie, this soda, that food coloring, this preservative, that magic chemical snakeoil, up and down and sideways in the grocery store, the crap is adulterated beyond belief. Cut all that stuff out and go back to just "food", and you get a lot healthier in a short time frame. It just works.

    No, busy, not going to fix my typos right now, back to work, see ya. Remember, food is food, non food should be avoided because it isn't food. It doesn't get any simpler or any easier to understand than that.
  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @02:27PM (#19293481) Homepage Journal

    Your headaches drinking diet soda were likely caused by either caffeine (which restricts blood flow) or the placebo effect.
    Shortly after the FDA soft-drink approval, Searle began test marketing, and complaints began to arrive at the FDA -- of such reactions as dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, and seizures. The complaints were more serious than the agency had ever received on any food additive, At the same time, scientists began looking more closely at this manufactured chemical sweeetner.

    In 1985, the FDA asked the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to review the first 650 complaints (there are now over 10,000). CDC found that the symptoms in approximately 25% of the complainants had stopped and then restarted, corresponding with their having stopped and then restarted, either purposely or by accident, aspartame consumption.

    The CDC also identified several specific subjects whose symptoms stopped and started as they stopped and started consuming aspartame. The FDA discounted the report. The day the FDA released the CDC report, Pepsi Cola -- having obained an advance copy -- announced its switch to aspartame with a worldwide media blitz.

    Former White House Chief of Staff Rumsfeld owed a debt of gratitude to former White House confidante and Rumsfeld friend Donald Kendal, Pepsi's chairman. The Pepsi announcement and aggressive marketing (millions of gumballs, a red and white swirl, tough contracts) made NutraSweet known in every home.

    At the same time, according to data released in 1995, human brain tumors like those in the animal studies rose 10% and previously benign tumors turned virulent. Searle and FDA's deputy commissioner said the data posed no problem. Two years later this same FDA official became vice president of []
    clinical research for Searle.

    From 1985 to 1995, researchers did about 400 aspartame studies. They were divided almost evenly between those that gave assurances and those that raised questions about the sweetener. Most instructively, Searle paid for 100% of those finding no problem. All studies paid for by non-industry sources raised questions.
  • by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @03:33PM (#19293919)
    try some Open Source Cola? []
  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Sunday May 27, 2007 @07:59PM (#19295811)
    I actually did the same thing. I switched to seltzer and i lost 50+lbs. I drink mostly water now, not seltzer, but yeah definatly it makes a huge difference when you just drop the sugar and other silly shit.
  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @03:04AM (#19298003) Homepage Journal

    Yes, but they come up with other interesting terms, too. For example, I never noticed any obvous indication that Kern's isn't fruit juice, but it is artificially sweetened with loads of HFCS, much to my chagrin. You think you're drinking something healthy, then read more carefully and find out that your apricot purée contains 14% juice or some such.

    And even things that are 100% juice are often... say 15% of the juice you think you're getting and 85% white grape juice (from concentrate)---the cheapest fruit juice available, and among the worst fruit juices for you in terms of having relatively little nutritional value.

    You have to seriously scrutinize fruit juice if you actually care about what you are getting....

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson