Wed, Aug 01, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Letters: Soda's hidden hazards

Besides insane amounts of sugar, cancer-causing additives, and bone-destroying chemicals, what's in a soda? Absolutely nothing else. These three main components pose enormous health hazards.

First, there is the huge amount of sugar in these drinks, up to 10 teaspoons (100 percent of the recommended daily intake of sugar) per 355mL can or bottle, which leads to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and many other related illnesses.

Second, diet soft drinks contain saccharin and/or aspartame, both of which in numerous studies have been linked to an increased risk for various cancers, even at one or two bottles per day. Saccharin is believed to have a cancer-causing effect on the bladder as well as on female reproductive organs. Aspartame is believed to cause headaches, brain tumors and brain lesions.

These studies are not conclusive but they surely cause to avoid consuming these sweeteners.

The third factor -- and my main concern about soda -- is its lack of nutrients and its chemical profile. It contains high levels of sodium, phosphoric acid and virtually no calcium. When excessive sodium and phosphoric acid are excreted calcium is pulled from the bones causing poor bone mineralization in children and osteoporosis (low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue leading to fractures) in adults.

Frequent exposure to this phosphoric acid also softens tooth enamel leading to an increased risk for tooth decay and cavities.

As today's lifestyle may already contribute multiple risk factors for osteoporosis -- such as smoking, excessive alcohol, low calcium intake, vitamin D deficiency -- as well as an inactive lifestyle and just plain getting older, the last thing we need is yet another risk factor.

That said, an occasional soda can be a very satisfying and delightfully thirst-quenching experience and as such presents about as much of a danger to your health as your occasional doughnut or fried chicken, and possibly less than a scooter ride to your nearby convenience store.

The health hazard lies in the two or more cans of soda a day ingested over many years. The long-term, combined effect of high phosphoric acid, high sugar/artificial sweetener and low calcium levels is what we should avoid.

The most affected by all these toxins are children. Imagine what high sugar, phosphoric acid, and caffeine levels can do to their weight, brains, teeth, bones, skin, attention span, learning abilities and sleep patterns.

So, parents please remember, soft drinks should not be included in the diset of children under the age of 11, except as an occasional treat.

Daniel Luthi

Taichung

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