Another Reason To Ditch Soda: Cancer

As if we needed another reason not to drink soda, which is already associated with obesity and diabetes, here it is: cancer. Yes, cancer has been added to the risks associated with high levels of soda consumption.

According to study published yesterday by Consumer Reports and the Center for a Livable Future at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, some sodas contain high levels of 4-methylimidazole, or 4-Mel.  This tongue-twisting ingredient is a component of the caramel coloring that gives most cola drinks their signature brown tint.

Astonishingly, the study reports that more than half of Americans between the ages of 6 and 64 drink enough soda daily to increase their cancer risk from 4-Mel. Based on current levels of soda consumption and the levels of 4-Mel found in retails samples, the study’s authors concluded that “we would expect to see between 76 and 5,000 cases of cancer in the U.S. over the next 70 years from 4-MeI exposure alone.”

In light of this recent study, Urvashi Rangan, Executive Director of Consumer Reports’ Food Safety & Sustainability Center did not mince words in saying “4-Mel should not be added to food… We don’t think any food additive, particularly one that’s only purpose is to color food brown, should elevate people’s cancer risk.”

I agree. And likely, many others do, too. But to date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have never regulated the amount of 4-Mel used in soda formulations.


cola soda linked to cancer


California decided to take matters in its own hands and now requires that any product containing more than 29 micrograms of 4-Mel must have a label noting that it can cause cancer. Hopefully, the rest of the nation will follow suit soon in alerting consumers, who are generally becoming more educated and concerned about artificial colors and additives.

To give you perspective in light of this California law (Prop 65), the Consumer Report study examined 110 individual soda products purchased in California and New York, and they found 4-MeI levels in the samples ranging wildly from 3.4 to 352.5 micrograms (mcg) per 12-ounce bottle or can.

According to Consumer Reports, the study on 4-Mel has been presented to the California Attorney General’s office since some of the levels tested violated voter-approved labeling laws. Consumer Reports is also asking the Federal Government to start regulating 4-Mel in food products.

To avoid 4-Mel, look at food and drink labels and just say no to any product containing caramel color and/or artificial color. If you have never looked out for these buzz words, you will be shocked to learn just how many consumer products contain this potential carcinogen – and how hard it is to find pre-made food that does not have artificial coloring added.


Dennis H.
Dennis H3 years ago


Warren Webber
Warren Webber4 years ago

Live long and prosper!

David Thieke
David Thieke4 years ago

Excellent advice on always checking drink labels .
What always amazes me is how the great majority of drinks that describe themselves
as 'Healthy" or "Green" or "Natural" have HUGE amounts of Sugar in them.

I've learned that literally 90 percent of the commercial drinks that
are labeled "Healthy" and "Natural" are anything but healthy as it's not usual
for such drinks to have upwards of 30 grams of Sugar in them.

The old saying "Buyer Beware" is very good advice to follow for all drinks.
Thanks for the article !

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

We very rarely drink regular sodas, we get ours from the health food store.

Melissa DogLover
Melissa DogLover4 years ago

Good to know.

Johanna Kidd
Johanna Kidd4 years ago

Here's another way to make Cancer patients feel guilty. I have beaten my Cancer but I don't usually drink soft drinks (soda drinks), so did water cause my cancer? Very disappointing article, heaping guilt (which most cancer sufferers already feel)on top of guilt!

Winn Adams
Winn Adams4 years ago

Drinking ANY kind of soda is as bad for you as smoking. Please find a way and Stop drinking soda.

Rhonda B.
Rhonda B4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

Don't drink sodas--i may have an Orangina once a year...but am really curious just what the cancer related rates are since our revolting population never takes a hit---very ODD

Sharon Stein
Sharon Stein4 years ago

Where is the data on Splenda? I want to see it!