What Is Sodium Benzoate? Everything You Need to Know

What Is Sodium Benzoate?

Sodium bromide (Na 2 Br) is a colorless liquid with a pungent odor and taste. It was first produced in 1887 by the German chemical company Bayer AG. Its use was discontinued due to its toxicity, but it made its way into household products such as nail polish remover, antifreeze, paint thinner and other industrial uses until it became illegal in most countries in the 1970’s.

In the 1980’s, the U.S. government banned its production and sale because of concerns over its potential health risks. However, many companies continued to produce it illegally or under different names, including sodium hydroxide (NaOH), which is used as a cleaning agent in laundry detergents and dishwashing liquids.

The World Health Organization classified sodium bromide as a known human carcinogen in 1981. Since then, several studies have been conducted to determine if there are any negative effects from exposure to low levels of sodium bromide. These include animal experiments and epidemiological studies. Although some studies have found adverse health effects at lower doses than those considered safe for humans, others haven’t shown any harmful effects at all.

Where Is Sodium Benzoate Used?

Sodium Benzoate is a common food additive used primarily to prevent the growth of mold, yeast and bacteria in acidic foods. It is also used in pharmaceutical and personal care products such as mouthwash, shampoo, hair color and dermatological treatments.

Sodium Benzoate is prepared by adding sodium hydroxide to benzoic acid. The mixture is then heated to evaporate the water and the result is a white solid that is dried, milled and packaged for further use.

When added to acidic foods such as ketchup or soft drinks, it reacts with the acid to form sodium salts of benzoic acid. This prevents the growth of mold and yeast in the food and maintains a longer shelf life.

In personal care products such as shampoos and hair dyes, it acts as a preservative to prevent bacteria from growing and causing a foul odor. In sunscreens and other dermatological preparations, it prevents certain antibiotics and anti-fungal agents from losing their effectiveness.

Sodium Benzoate & Carcinogencity

A large number of studies have been performed to investigate the link between the consumption of sodium benzoate and its carcinogenic effects. Most of these studies are inconclusive and do not establish a causal relationship between the two factors.

There have been cases where rats show higher levels of liver damage after being exposed to high levels of sodium benzoate. Although it is not clear if the process that causes liver disease in rats is similar to that of humans, the instances are alarming enough to call for more research in this area.

The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) has tested sodium benzoate on mice for two years, beginning in 1996. The results were inconclusive and the amount used was higher than the maximum amount that humans would normally consume.

However, there have been cases where sodium benzoate has been directly linked to hyperactivity, skin rashes and head aches in certain people. It is believed that these health problems are caused by an intolerance to the chemical rather than a direct carcinogenic effect.

Sodium Benzoate & Soft Drinks

The most common source of intake of sodium benzoate is from soft drinks and other acidic drinks. Soft drinks usually contain lemon juice, which increases the amount of acid in the drink and enhances the efficiency of the preservative.

In general, acidic drinks usually contain 200-300 mg of sodium benzoate per liter. Although the amount may not seem high, the consumption of several liters per day can increase the intake to a dangerous level.

Sodium Benzoate & Alcohol

The combination of alcohol with sodium benzoate can also lead to several health problems, some of which can be fatal. When the two are mixed, a chemical reaction occurs that forms a poisonous substance called benzene.

In the past, many cases of illnesses and deaths due to this chemical reaction were reported. Unfortunately, not everyone knows about this interaction between the two chemicals and may not associate their health problems to the last beverage they consumed.

Some of the symptoms of benzene poisoning include abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. In more serious cases, headaches, problems with vision, breathlessness and irregular heartbeat may also occur.

The most severe types of benzene poisoning lead to the formation of leukaemia. These types of poisoning are even more dangerous for children and can lead to death.

Why Are Soft Drinks So Popular?

The widespread popularity of soft drinks such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi can be attributed to a complex set of factors. The two most important factors are their taste and price. In most parts of the world, tap water isn’t safe to drink due to contamination from pollution.

Soft drinks are much easier to find, cheaper and don’t cause as much stomach upset as bottled water. They are usually available at fast food restaurants and microwave ovens, so they can be consumed immediately after buying.

Most people also have a sentimental attachment to soft drinks and regard them as an important part of their lifestyle. Some people even regard them as an important part of their childhood.

The bad thing is that while most people are aware of the dangers that cigarettes pose to their health, they are usually ignorant about the dangers of soft drinks. Most of them don’t realize that soft drinks are just as bad for your health.

Recommended Actions

Although no immediate actions can prevent people from drinking soft drinks, there are several things that governments can do to make the public more aware of their health risks.

One of the best ways to reduce the intake of soft drinks is by increasing the price. This can be done through a direct tax on the drinks or by imposing an indirect tax by reducing the amount of sugar that can be bought for a reduced price.

Governments may fear losing income due to such actions, but in reality there will just be a transfer of income from the soft drink companies to the governments.

Another action that can be taken is to ban the advertisement of soft drinks on television. Such a ban will reduce their attractiveness to children and may even cause a decrease in their consumption.

Also, parents should be encouraged to monitor the amount of soft drinks that their children are consuming. Some parents are aware of the dangers of such drinks, but feel that it is better than letting their children consume sweetened drinks from home.

In any case, everyone should be made aware that the dangers of such drinks are just as severe as those of smoking. The only sure way to protect the health of children is to either prevent them from drinking such drinks or encourage them to stop.

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Sources & references used in this article:

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