Here's another reason to cut back on soda: The process to make cola and root beer darker may raise the risk of developing cancer if a person consumes those drinks regularly.
A study by Consumer Reports, led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, concluded that drinking one can of dark cola a day could be enough to expose a person to potentially cancer-causing levels of a chemical known as 4-MEI (short for 4-methylimidazole). The chemical is used as part of the process to create caramel coloring.
The researchers, after analyzing 110 samples of soda brands, found that soft drinks contained levels ranging from 9.5 mcg per liter to 963 mcg per liter of 4-MEI). While concentration of the chemical varied by soda brand and the state in which it was purchased, the levels were generally consistent across state/area. Overall, they determined that consumption of certain beverages can result in 4-MEI exposures of greater than 29 mcg a day--the level that triggers a new case of cancer for every 100,000 people consuming the drink.
The analysis showed that levels of the chemical could vary substantially, even for the same type of beverage. Of the many beverages samples, Coca-Cola was found to have the lowest concentration of the chemical compound.
Survey data analyzed by the researchers showed that the highest level of soda consumption is among teenagers 16 to 20 years old.