Toxic scaremongering

Sodium benzoateThe Independent on Sunday today reports that a UK researcher is claiming that fizzy drinks which contain sodium benzoate preservative (E211) could be harmful to mitochondrial DNA in our cells. Apparently, Sheffield University molecular biologist Peter Piper tested the compound on yeast cells (one of the organisms the preservative is added to drinks to eliminate in the first place). More to the point, the levels at which he assaulted the yeast was the equivalent of a person drinking ten gallons of soda in one go.

This new scare story follows closely on the tail of the benzene in soda debacle Sciencebase reported last year and the almost historical tale of benzene contamination of mineral water scare of the early 1990s. Intriguingly, The Independent article does not seem to mention the words “dose” or “concentration” once.

Perhaps there are individuals who drink large volumes of soda every day without realising there are other harmful effects of such drinks, like the concentrated sugar intake, or the relatively high levels of caffeine stimulant. But, even high-speed Digger users only claim to drink a couple of litres of Mountain Dew each day, not the ten gallons equivalent of the experiments. Perhaps experiments will push the safety threshold well below 10 gallons (please excuse the mixed units), maybe even to 1 gallon, but that’s still an awful lot of soda for anyone, even for a hardened Digger, to be drinking every day, surely?

There are many reasons to not drink soda, so instead choose tap water, choose life…

No, wait a minute, fish do their four essential biological “F’s” in water – Feeding, Fighting, Fleeing…Fu Mating. Best stick to beer.

3 thoughts on “Toxic scaremongering”

  1. I cannot lay claim to the four F’s it really is an old biologists’ joke. As to the toothpaste conundrum, I suspect that it’s true. Chlorinated water can produce tiny, tiny, amounts of chlorinated hydrocarbons when it comes into contact with organic matter. But, again, dose is the key. Far more worrying is the fluorine content in groundwater across the Indian sub-continent, which is wrecking people’s lives because of fluorosis. I will write about that issue in more detail soon.

  2. The four essential F’s…what a vivid picture of life…
    back to the issue, once upon a time there were researchers claiming that some ingredient of Colgate the toothpaste reacts with that of tap water to yield chloroform!

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