If you’re the kind of person who likes a good breakfast of syrup and pancakes, you could be putting yourself at risk for cancer.
That’s because the dangers of caramel food coloring are becoming more widely known. I first reported the potential risks of food coloring in Issue #380. And it comes as no surprise to most people that food dyed with black or bright neon colors is going to be bad for you.
In this weeks exposé…
A top executive of a major pharmaceutical company spills the naked truth about the drugs you and your family take… which drugs heal, and which ones KILL… what doctors turn to when they don’t know the cure… what they do when they themselves or their loved ones are stricken with disease or illness… what life-saving resource they insist should be in every home. Watch this must-see video now because your life — or the life of your loved ones — may depend on it.
Today I want to revisit the risks of brown food coloring – caramel color — in particular, because it turns out to be more of a risk than the bright reds, blues, yellows and greens that might be the first thing you think of when someone mentions food dyes. Brown coloring is especially a problem if you love syrup with breakfast.
Three reasons caramel coloring
could poison you
Pancake syrup is a popular product in Western culture. Unlike real maple syrup, it’s pretty cheap. But also unlike natural syrup, it contains 4-MeI – the same carcinogen that’s common in popular sodas, according to Consumer Reports. Caramel food color presents a more significant risk than the other food dyes for three reasons.
First, it’s easy to overlook. If you eat a cupcake with bright pink icing, or a purple cookie, you know there’s a pretty good chance it’s been dyed with a chemical. But a brown cookie or cupcake could easily take its color from chocolate, cinnamon, or a number of other food ingredients that are naturally brown.
The second reason caramel food coloring presents such a significant risk is its name. To most of us, the words “caramel color” sound natural. The phrase doesn’t suggest something artificial. It just sounds like more sugar was added to a product, and sugar becomes brown or golden brown when it’s “caramelized” – heated to a high temperature and liquefied. Sugar, of course, isn’t healthy but it’s not a toxic chemical, either.
And third, caramel food coloring is in a shocking number of popular foods. It’s one of the oldest and most commonly used food colorings, so you find it in just about everything. Brown sodas, mainly colas, are probably the most widely consumed products that have this coloring. But other popular foods have it as well, such as custards, potato chips, doughnuts, fish and shellfish spreads, fruit preserves, gravy, ice cream, dressings — and pancake syrup.
Another problem when it comes to caramel food coloring is that not all dyes of this type contain 4-MeI. Class I and II caramel coloring don’t have it – only Class III and IV. But it’s just about impossible to tell which level of coloring is in your food, because manufacturers aren’t required to list it. (If you want to delve deeper into this whole question of different classes of caramel coloring, there’s more at our article on colas, Issue #108.)
Eggs with pancakes and carcinogens on the side
According to Consumer Reports, the simple pancake syrup you serve with breakfast every weekend is probably loaded with carcinogens.
Both the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer say 4-MeI may cause cancer in humans. It has already been proved beyond a doubt that it causes cancer in mice.
Recently, Consumer Reports teamed up with Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future to test pancake syrup samples purchased in both California and New York. Pure, natural maple syrup was used as a control. (By the way, real maple syrup is what I eat on the occasions – extremely rare – when I have pancakes or French toast.)
Appallingly, 4-MeI was found in every syrup tested, with Hungry Jack Original and Aunt Jemima Lite leading the pack in terms of micrograms of 4-MeI per serving.
Consumer Reports stipulates that their test wasn’t large enough to be able to recommend specific brands over others, but the fact that 4-MeI was present is pretty conclusive.
The problem is significant enough that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to take a closer look at levels of caramel coloring in food. I don’t have high hopes for swift regulatory action from them, but it’s worth noting that big government agencies are acknowledging the problem.
In fact, California includes 4-MeI on its list of chemicals known to cause cancer. Since 2012, they’ve required cancer warning labels on products with over 29 micrograms of the substance.
An avoidable and unnecessary risk
Pundits say pancake syrup isn’t as big a risk as soft drinks because even those who eat syrup regularly do so only a couple of times a week. According to Consumer Reports, if you were to consume the syrup with the lowest levels of 4-MeI (Log Cabin Original), then your risk of cancer would be negligible – roughly one in 1,000,000. I would agree, this shouldn’t keep you up at night.
The problem is there are those who eat pancake syrup daily – and that includes four percent of children between age one and five. People who eat syrup that often increase their cancer risk by ten times. That’s still a modest risk, but don’t forget to add in all the exposure you get from other foods with trace amounts of 4-MeI, like soy sauce, vinegar, and rum. It all adds up and increases your risk.
Please note, colas are by far the greater risk, based on the quantity many people consume.
Most colas have about 200 micrograms of 4-Mel per 20-ounce bottle! Lots of folks drink more than that every day. So they’re drinking a carcinogen in big enough quantities to cause concern. And it’s a carcinogen that you might think is unnecessary since natural caramel should do just as well.
Fortunately, there’s a simple fix. Avoid exposure to carcinogens in colas by not drinking this junk. You’ll enjoy the added benefit of avoiding the sugar or artificial sweeteners which are, if anything, even more dangerous than the chemical dyes.
And avoid carcinogens in syrup by buying and eating only 100 percent pure maple syrup, manufactured from the sap of the maple tree. Sure, it’s more expensive, but it’s a lot cheaper than going through cancer. Maple syrup also tastes much better. Just do a side-by-side comparison. There’s no contest.
Other breakfast alternatives include smothering your pancakes with natural preserves, or using fresh fruit and cream. Try it for a week — chances are good you’ll enjoy it, and you’ll be better off in the long run.
The history of prepared and processed foods in this country is long and tragic. As a boy, my family NEVER served real maple syrup OR real butter. It was fake syrup and margarine all the way – just to save a couple of bucks. When I found the stuff didn’t even taste good, compared to the natural products, I changed my ways and never looked back. As for colas, I was allowed to have as much as I wanted, every day. I suspect millions of other homes were the same. It’s a wonder any of us are still here!
Speaking of good, natural foods, our last issue was about one of the best – perhaps the most powerful of all cancer-fighting vegetables (and you can take the active ingredient as a supplement, if that’s what you prefer). If you missed this news, you can scroll down and read it now.
This Vegetable Nixes Cancer –
And Many Other Diseases, Too!
Well, technically it’s a fruit… but most folks think of it as a vegetable, especially for cooking.
And while there may be several contenders for the title of “best cancer-fighting vegetable”—a number of clinical studies suggest the tomato is at or near the top. It’s a serious threat to abnormal cell growth, aka cancer. Just take a look at what it can do for you. . .
Who’s Winning The War In Your Gut?
Right now there’s a war raging inside your digestive tract.
Billions of “good guy” beneficial bacteria (called probiotics, which literally means “for life”) are defending you against an army of nasty pathogens.
Your total health depends upon the good guys winning the war.
But if you suffer frequent gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea, these are warning signs that your good guys are losing the war within. And fiber supplements, laxatives, acid-fighters — even common probiotics — aren’t the solution.
Recent research from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School suggests these temporary fixes could be putting your gut health at risk.
These new studies indicate these problems are being caused by a lack of enzymes in your digestive tract.
Now, there’s an easy, highly effective fix for these problems.
Lycopene, one of the primary nutrients in tomatoes, has been cited by a boatload of studies as a health food powerhouse.
Even the National Institutes of Health acknowledge it on the National Cancer Institute website. They reference several lab culture and animal studies that indicate lycopene may have chemopreventive effects for cancers of the breast, liver, lung, prostate and skin.
But despite that stunning resumé, lycopene still only gets a ‘wait and see’ nod from mainstream medicine.
I will agree the evidence is not open and shut – it rarely is with foods and nutrients – but I take lycopene because mounting evidence indicates it not only battles cancer, but also addresses a range of other health concerns.
So just what is it and how does it work to stamp out diseases?
Nature’s free radical fighter!
Lycopene is a plant nutrient that provides the deep red color in plants like tomatoes, guava, pink grapefruit and watermelon. It’s classified as an antioxidant.
It falls into the category of carotenoids such as alpha- and beta-carotene. But while your body uses those to make vitamin A, it uses lycopene to provide a different benefit.
One of its protective actions is to maintain the strength, thickness and fluidity of the membranes guarding your cells. These membranes monitor what enters and exits the cells.
Strong membranes allow good nutrients to enter and keep toxins out. This is a vital action in helping to prevent diseases.
Its antioxidant activity protects you from free radical cell damage. Everyone is bombarded by these damaged oxygen molecules every single day thanks to smog, environmental toxins and radiation from the sun.
But antioxidants like lycopene help minimize the harm these cell-damaging molecules can cause.
This is how scientists believe it plays a role in protecting you from diseases such as:
- Heart Disease
- Macular degeneration
To give just one example, a review in the December 2010 issue of Maturitas analyzed 12 studies relating to the effects of lycopene on cholesterol and blood pressure.
They concluded that lycopene consumption is protective against heart disease for two main reasons:
- Investigators found that administering lycopene dosages of at least 25mg daily reduced total cholesterol by 7.55mg/dl. What’s more, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol decreased by 10.35mg/dl.
- All the studies examined in this article found that lycopene consumption had a significant effect on systolic blood pressure, where the average reduction was 5.60 mmHg.
Besides protecting you from all the diseases mentioned above, scientific studies also suggest lycopene may offer first class cancer protection too.
Lycopene gives prostate cancer cells the boot
A number of laboratory and animal studies have been conducted to test the effects of lycopene on prostate cancer cells. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), here are some of the findings:
- Laboratory studies have shown:
- Lycopene changed the cell division cycle of prostate cancer cells—which resulted in less cancer cell growth
- Prostate cancer cells treated with lycopene showed lower cholesterol; this decreased cancer cell growth and caused more damage to abnormal cells
- Combining lycopene with cancer drugs may help stop the growth of prostate cancer cells more effectively than drugs used alone. Scientists think lycopene may block cell entry of insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which stunts cancer cell growth.
- In animal studies, lycopene produced remarkable results:
- Mice bred to develop prostate cancer that acts like human cancer were fed either lycopene beads or lycopene-rich tomato paste. Mice eating the lycopene beads had a greater decrease in prostate cancer, suggesting that lycopene supplements might provide more anti-cancer protection than tomato paste.
- When lycopene was combined with a substance found in dried tomatoes (FruHis), prostate cancer growth in rats slowed more than when the animals received either lycopene or FruHis alone.
- In a study of mice injected with human prostate cancer cells, the animals were treated with a certain chemotherapy drug, lycopene, or both at once. Those treated with chemotherapy and lycopene lived longer and had smaller tumors than those that only received chemotherapy!
Now keep in mind, these protective effects were shown when tested against prostate cells alone. But these are not the only cancer cells lycopene can clobber.
An epidemiological study published in the April 2008 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed more than 84,000 postmenopausal women for seven years. The authors concluded that consuming lycopene contributed to noticeably reduced incidence of breast cancer.
Researchers found that lycopene from tomatoes also helped reduce pancreatic cancer by 31 percent (nearly a third) in patients who ate the most tomatoes or tomato products compared to those who consumed the least (“Dietary Intake of Lycopene is Associated with Reduced Pancreatic Cancer Risk” – The Journal of Nutrition – March 2005).
Finally, a study published in the October 2000 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the impact of carotenoids on lung cancer. Investigators found lung cancer risk was reduced significantly when patients consumed higher amounts of lycopene in their diet.
So — cancer cells hate it when you eat tomatoes! And no worries if you don’t like their flavor. Lycopene supplements are available wherever supplements are sold.
Lee Euler, Publisher