This archived article was written by: Carlie Miller
We have heard of the dangers associated with alcohol abuse and long term alcohol use: liver disease, brain damage, cancer just to name a few. However, a new danger is on the horizon – carbonated drinks. Carbonated drinks, also known as soda pop, started out as a health drink sold at the local drug store, and eventually grew into an international sensation. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and other companies have made soda pop a place in our hearts. In the age of work overtime, fast food and drink dispense machines, soda pop has become a necessity in everyday life and health researchers are saying that is not good.
Contrary to popular belief, carbonated drinks were not invented in America, an English scientist by the name of Joseph Priestly, also the creator of rubber erasers, was the first man to make carbonated water in 1767. Man-made carbonation would not reach the United States until the mid 1800s when a company in Charleston, S.C. began manufacturing it. Mineral water, the predecessor to today’s soda drinks, was considered medicinal so it was sold in pharmacies across America. The pharmacists decided to experiment with mineral water, trying to make it more popular, a “cure-all,” by adding herbs and medicines. Cola was introduced to the carbonated industry by 1881, but it was not until 1885 that the first great cola brand name, Dr. Pepper, was born in Waco, Texas, where it was called a Waco. Dr. Pepper’s reign lasted all of a year before the cola name that would rank only second in “the most recognized words in the world” and would become the leading brand of cola drinks was invented by John Pemberton in Atlanta, Ga.: Coca-Cola. The coca from Coca-Cola’s name came from the widely used medical cure-all cocaine which was a key ingredient in the drink until 1905 when it was taken out due to the growing negative effects of the drug and the cocaine scare.
The health danger of cola drinks all but disappeared after cocaine was declared an illegal substance, until today. Researchers at the University of Ioannia in Greece say that people who drink more than two quarts of cola, or other soft drinks, run the risk of severe and possibly fatal potassium deficiency as well as bone loss, rapid tooth decay and muscle fatigue. Sounds like a commercial ad for a pill but, it may be time for the cola industries to jump on the bandwagon and add warning labels to their products. University of Ioannia researcher Moses Elisaf said, “We are consuming more soft drinks than ever before, and a number of health issues have already been identified including tooth problems, bone de-mineralization and the development of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.” He continues, “Evidence is increasing to suggest that excessive cola consumption can also lead to hypokalemia, in which the blood potassium levels fall, causing an adverse effect on vital muscle functions.” Exactly what is in cola drinks that are causing all of these health issues? The main ingredients of soft drinks are carbonated water, sugar, caffeine, and Cola from the Kola nut of a tropical African tree, which also contains caffeine and theobromine, which is like a less potent version of caffeine. Researchers say that both caffeine and sugar are the source of the potassium deficiency. Potassium is critical to the functioning of nerves, muscles and the heart. The university claims that critical deficiency of potassium can lead to cramping, paralysis, irregular heartbeat and even death.
So in the future, will we be seeing Coke bottles that read, “Coke, drink responsibly.” Clifford Packer of Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in Cleveland sure hopes so, “There is very little doubt that tens of millions of people in industrialized countries drink at least 2-3 quarts of cola per day. The soft drink industry needs to promote safe and moderate use of its products for all age groups, reduce serving sizes, and pay heed to the rising call for healthier drinks.” So while you are waiting for your next class to start, kick your soda addiction and grab a bottle of good old H2O.