Cancer-Causing Benzene Still in Drinks

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January 26, 2008 | 73,412 views

Nearly one out of ten of 200 beverage samples analyzed in a recent study by the EPA and FDA still had benzene levels above the U.S. EPA drinking water limit of 5 parts per billion (ppb).

Many manufacturers have reformulated their products to minimize or eliminate benzene. In these reformulated products, benzene levels were 1.1 ppb or less. About 71 percent of beverage samples contained less than 1 ppb.

Benzene can form in beverages that contain the preservative benzoate salt and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Beverages were reformulated in the early 1990’s to avoid benzene formation, but it has recurred in recent years because new manufacturers were unaware of the problem and added vitamin C to drinks.

Benzene is not something you want to be consuming as it has been linked to leukemia and other problems. It is usually found in pollutants such as car exhaust fumes. Ironically, the main reason it’s in soft drinks these days is because some manufacturers have added vitamin C to their beverages in an effort to make them seem more healthy.

Why are they still allowed to do this? Because about 15 years ago, when the problem first surfaced, the FDA decided to leave it up to the soft drink industry to determine the best way to lower benzene levels in soft drinks. So there are no regulations telling soda manufacturers not to add vitamin C to drinks with benzoate preservatives, and after a few years had passed and the problem was off the headlines for a while, vitamin C went right back in. So much for the government watchdogs who are supposed to be guarding our health from just this kind of problem.

Of course, the entire idea of adding vitamin C to a soft drink to make it “healthier” is ludicrous in the first place, even if doing so didn’t result in a cancer-causing toxic brew. It’s sort of like slapping a happy-face sticker on a toxic waste dump. Soft drinks, the leading source for calories in America, are loaded with high fructose corn syrup, and they increase your obesity risks by 60 percent. A bit of vitamin C is not going to fix that.

And diet soft drinks, despite what you may think, are no better for your weight, and usually contain health-harming artificial sweeteners as well. Without question, as bad as regular sugar-laden sodas are, they are far superior to the artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas.

Of course, asking whether diet or regular soft drinks are better is like asking whether you prefer getting hit in the head with a sledge hammer, a baseball bat or a golf club. None of the choices are good; it is all a matter of the lesser of two health evils.

One of the easiest things you can do to optimize your health is to replace soft and sugary sweet fruit drinks with clean fresh water. There just is simply NO excuse to be drinking soda in my book, none, absolutely none.

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