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Soda has no place in firefighter rehab

Harmful ingredients in sodas make them a poor choice for rehab, or anytime

You are at the incident scene and need a quick thirst quencher. You want to reach for that soda, but before you do, you may want to reconsider.

In reality, soda should not be part of your arsenal of thirst quenchers on the incident scene or even at the fire station.
The research on these drinks is startling.

Mainstream news sources recently broadcast that Coke and Pepsi are changing their formula to reduce the amount of carcinogens in their product. They did not say remove they said reduce.

The culprit here is the artificial caramel coloring used to make Coke, Pepsi, and other colas brown.

In her article "9 Disturbing Side Effects form Soda," from care2.com, Emily Main wrote that two contaminants in the coloring, 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, have been found to cause cancer in animals. According to California's Proposition 65, a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, a person need only consume 16 micrograms per day of 4-methylimidazole to risk cancer. Most diet and regular brown colas contain 200 micrograms per 20-ounce bottle.

Liver fat
It is bad enough that soda is full of sugar, now we know that it has carcinogens in them too. Here are some other facts about soda you may not know about.

A study by Danish researchers unveiled that non-diet sodas increase the fat buildup around the liver and skeletal muscles. When this occurs, it can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. The subjects in this study drank a soda everyday for six months.

Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center confirmed in a 10-year study that drinking diet soda does not help you reduce weight. Rather, it actually causes weight gain in those who drank two or more diet sodas per day.

Among the worst
Main also reports that one soda in particular, Mountain Dew, has a number of issues surrounding its ingredients. There is concern that Mountain Dew may even create a medical condition that has altering effect on the mind.

Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, is added to prevent the flavoring from separating from the drink. You may be familiar with BVO; it is an industrial chemical used in making plastic flame retardant. However, Mountain Dew may not be alone. Citrus-based soft drinks and sports drinks also have levels of BVO.

The effects of the chemical are known to cause memory loss and nerve disorders when consumed in large quantities, Main writes. Body fat, potential behavioral problems, infertility, and lesions on heart muscles over time are all concerns centered around the buildup of this flame retardant.

The best case I heard was the attorney's response to a lawsuit brought by a customer who claimed to have found a rat in a Mountain Dew. The attorney's defense — there is no way a rat could be in the soda, the chemicals in Mountain Dew would cause the rat to disintegrate.

Container concerns
Nearly all aluminum soda cans are lined with an epoxy resin called bisphenol A (BPA), used to keep the acids in soda from reacting with the metal. In addition, plastic bottles also contain this epoxy resin.

The Centers for Disease Control has issued a wealth of information and conducted studies on the effects that BPA potentially has on consumers. They note that BPA interferes with hormones, and has been linked to such ailments as infertility, obesity, diabetes and some forms of reproductive cancers.

CDC has also determined that soda cans, along with restaurant, school, and fast-food meals, are a major source of exposure to the chemical. In fact, the CDC notes this type of plastic used to make some beverage containers is also used in compact disks, plastic dinnerware, impact-resistant safety equipment, automobile parts and toys.

BPA epoxy resins are used in the protective linings of food cans, in dental sealants, and in other products. Research is ongoing to determine the long-term health effects on us.

As with any research, there are limitations with published studies. However, there are too many warning signs not to heed the concerns for your health as a firefighter.

Soda has no place in the fire service and especially on an incident scene, or for that matter, anywhere. There are a number other drinks that to consider.

Here is to your health.

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