Does Caramel Coloring Cause Cancer?
Alleged health risks associated with cola drink coloring listed as "caramel color" on drink ingredients
Does caramel coloring cause cancer? A new study from the center for science in the public interest says that caramel color, found in most cola drinks, is unnecessary and causes tumors in laboratory animals. This colorant, which has been around for decades, is used in a variety of foods but if the claim of the center is correct, this may be a bigger scare than the diet soda cancer risk alleged a few weeks ago, since caramel coloring is in all sodas, not just diet sodas. Previously, claims have been made about saccharine, cyclamates, and apsartame, so more study will certainly be needed before drawing a definitive conclusion about carmel coloring and cancer risks.
The problem with blaming food additives for cancer is that people don't live their lives in laboratories. They may be faced with a wide variety of environmental toxins every day, from dryer sheets to plastic bottles, to the petroleum vapors that rise up from asphalt roads to the formaldehyde that may exist inside walls or the synthetic carpet materials which emit their own chemicals. This goes hand-in-hand with naturally occuring arsenic, cyanide, and other poisons that can be found everywhere. The fact that just about everyone is consuming soft drinks may just create a broad case for correlation when at the same time people are smoking, exposed to second hand smoke, working around combustion vapors in factories, or may be exposed to a chemical that is not identified to be dangerous today. Remember BPA in plastic bottles, Alar in apples, Red Dye in foods, and Cyclamates? All of these things were seen as potentially dangerous, and some of these claims were debunked. You can also live a perfectly healthy life and still get cancer, or a bad infection, or a fungus from eating organic food, so just keep all things in moderation.
CNN has a new story about 4-MEI which is a byproduct of the production of caramel colorings, which could cause cancer in very large amounts, or (if you are in California) in a small amount of some soft drinks. The World Health Organization, fresh off its successful quest to end childhood mortality, cancer, measles, and polio, has decided to focus on the remote possibility that a trace carcinogen found in soft drinks could become an epidemic. Apparently they left stewardship of the AIDS epidemic to someone who cares about it more than they do.
Notes and Special Information
Special note: Like all health claims, this one should be taken seriously but people should also be cautious until further studies are done.