Can drinking Pepsi lead to cancer?

Can drinking Pepsi lead to cancer?

This week a watchdog group released some alarming news for Pepsi drinkers.

According to the Center for Environmental Health, which commissioned a Louisiana lab to analyze Coke and PepsiCo products in 10 states, Pepsi still contains a troublesome level of a cancer-causing chemical.  

Industry tracker Beverage Digest says PepsiCo and Coca-Cola account for almost 90 percent of the soda market. 

Back in March, both companies released statements saying they would adjust their formulas after California passed a law mandating that any drinks containing a certain level of carcinogens have a cancer warning label on the packaging.

The chemical in question—4-methylimidazole, or 4-Mel, is formed during the cooking process, and trace amounts of the chemical can be found in many foods.

The watchdog group says both companies did make changes to their formulas in California after the law passed. And Coca-Cola products tested in California and outside of the state were found to have no trace of the chemical. But Pepsi sold in several states outside of California did test positive for 4-Mel.   

PepsiCo says its suppliers are changing their manufacturing process to cut the amount of 4-Mel contained in its caramel mix. That process is expected to be completed nationwide by February 2014. Pepsi also says the chemical will be taken out globally, but so far, no timeline has been released for this effort.

Meanwhile, the company does say that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies consider its caramel coloring safe.

Analysis Snapshot
The Louisiana lab commissioned to analyze the beverages tested Coke and PepsiCo products in May and June. The lab says it found levels of 4-Mel that were four to eight times higher than California safety levels in all 10 Pepsi products it purchased and tested outside of California.

It is important to note that small amounts of 4-Mel have not been linked to cancer in humans. However, there is a study linking the chemical to cancer in lab mice.

But according to the FDA, a consumer would have to drink more than 1,000 cans of soda a day to reach the dose levels administered that tie the chemical to cancer in rodents.

Many health experts still say it’s important to limit your soda intake. Getting a large amount of your calories from sodas has been linked to obesity and diabetes.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.