By Dr. Mercola
If you live in the U.S. and drink Mountain Dew and some other citrus-flavored sodas, then you are also getting a dose of a synthetic chemical called brominated vegetable oil (BVO).
BVO was first patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant. The chemical is banned in food throughout Europe and Japan.
But BVO has been added to about 10 percent of sodas in North America for decades, even though it has resulted in soda-drinkers needing medical attention for skin lesions, memory loss and nerve disorders — all symptoms of overexposure to bromine.
Studies suggest that BVO can build up in human tissues, and animal studies have found it causes reproductive and behavioral problems in large doses.
“Reports from an industry group helped the U.S. Food and Drug Administration establish in 1977 what it considers a safe limit for BVO in sodas.
But some scientists say that limit is based on data that is thin and several decades old, and they insist that the chemical deserves a fresh look …
With natural alternatives already in use in other countries, why not switch in North America too?”
What is Brominated Vegetable Oil, and Why is it Used in Soda?
Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is vegetable oil, derived from corn or soy, bonded with the element bromine. It’s added as an emulsifier, to prevent the flavoring from separating and floating to the surface. The FDA limits the amount of BVO allowed in fruit-flavored beverages to 15 parts per million.
Bromines are common endocrine disruptors, and are part of the halide family, a group of elements that includes fluorine, chlorine and iodine. What makes it so dangerous is that it competes for the same receptors that are used to capture iodine. If you are exposed to a lot of bromine, your body will not hold on to the iodine that it needs. And iodine affects every tissue in your body, not just your thyroid.
Are You Consuming Sodas Laced with BVO?
According to the featured article, Coca-Cola and Pepsi do not contain brominated vegetable oil (BVO), but the following citrus-flavored sodas and energy drinks, sold in the US, do:
|Mountain Dew||Squirt||Fanta Orange|
|Sunkist Pineapple||Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange, and Powerade Strawberry Lemonade||Fresca Original Citrus|
This is not a complete list however. All in all, about 10 percent of all sodas sold in the U.S. contain BVO, so it pays to read the list of ingredients. Better yet, make a concerted effort to eliminate soda from your diet altogether. With or without BVO, sodas contain so many ingredients harmful to your health—high fructose corn syrup being one of the foremost culprits—that they really have no redeeming value whatsoever.
And please do not make the mistake of switching from regular soda to diet, as artificial sweetened drinks may be the worse of two evils. Also beware of drinks containing sodium benzoate, and Yellow Dye #5. The latter is also known as tartrazine, and has been banned in Norway, Austria and Germany due to its ill health effects.
Unfortunately, according to a 2010 study by the National Cancer Institute, sodas are still the number one source of calories for teenagers between the ages of 14 to 18. Among adults, sodas and other sugary drinks are the fourth largest source of calories, according to the latest dietary statistics from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
There’s no doubt that this kind of excessive soda consumption ravages your body and robs you of good health… I believe one of the fastest ways to make a profound change in your health- and weight status is to dramatically reduce or eliminate soda from your diet, regardless of which type or brand you drink.
Other Common Sources of Bromine
Bromine can also be found in a number of products, including:
|Pesticides (specifically methyl bromide, used mainly on strawberries, predominantly in California)||Bakery goods and some flours often contain a “dough conditioner” called potassium bromate||Medications such as Atrovent Inhaler, Atrovent Nasal Spray, Pro-Banthine (for ulcers), and anesthesia agents|
|Plastics, like those used to make computers||Fire retardants (common one is polybromo diphenyl ethers or PBDEs) used in fabrics, carpets, upholstery, and mattresses||Bromine-based hot tub and swimming pool treatments|
Health Risks of Bromine
As mentioned, when you ingest or absorb bromine, it displaces iodine. The resulting iodine deficiency can in turn lead to an increased risk for cancer of the breast, thyroid gland, ovary and prostate — cancers that we see at alarmingly high rates today. This phenomenon is significant enough to have been given its own name: the Bromide Dominance Theory.
Bromine is also toxic in and of itself. It can accumulate in your tissues, central nervous system, and breast milk, resulting in a number of health problems. One 1971 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition concluded that:
“These findings, in conjunction with previous animal studies and with the geographical differences in the use of brominated vegetable oils as food additives, suggest that the high bromine levels found in the fat of tissues from UK children are due to the use of these compounds.”
One 1983 animal study also found that rats receiving one percent BVO in their feed suffered impaired fertility, and at two percent, they became completely infertile.
Bromine is known to act as a central nervous system depressant, and can trigger a number of psychological symptoms such as acute paranoia and other psychotic symptoms. In fact, in an audio interview, physician Jorge Flechas reported that, between 1920 and 1960, at least 20 percent of all hospital admissions for “acute paranoid schizophrenia” were a result of ingesting bromine-containing products. In addition to psychiatric problems, bromine toxicity can manifest as:
- Skin rashes and severe acne
- Loss of appetite and abdominal pain
- Metallic taste
- Cardiac arrhythmias
Scientific American cites two case studies of bromine toxicity in humans:
“In 1997, emergency room doctors at University of California, Davis reported a patient with severe bromine intoxication from drinking two to four liters of orange soda every day. He developed headaches, fatigue, ataxia (loss of muscle coordination) and memory loss. In a 2003 case reported in Ohio, a 63-year-old man developed ulcers on his swollen hands after drinking eight liters of Red Rudy Squirt every day for several months. The man was diagnosed with bromoderma, a rare skin hypersensitivity to bromine exposure. The patient quit drinking the brominated soft drink and months later recovered.”