NORCROSS, Ga. - Energy drinks are cold, refreshing, and packed with electrolytes. But there's something else inside these popular drinks that's worrying.
"It concerns me that they have questionable chemicals in their products," said Aveyca Price.
The chemical Price is referring to is brominated vegetable oil, or BVO for short. BVO contains an element found in flame retardants and studies have linked the chemical to neurological impairment, reduced fertility, thyroid changes and early puberty.
Price started a petition on the website change.org, urging Coca-Cola to drop the ingredient from their Powerade drinks. Part of the petition read: "I and surely others would like to know if any action has been taken to remove the chemical."
The response to the petition was overwhelming.
"50,000 people ended up signing it within the month," Price said.
Coca-Cola says its ingredients comply with FDA regulations, and they use BVO to keep their drinks well-mixed. In a statement, the American Beverage Association said, "The current conversation surrounding brominated vegetable oil is more sensational than substantive. It is a safe ingredient permitted by the FDA."
Meanwhile, Price, an artist who is currently battling cancer, said she's surprised by all the attention she's received.
"I'm just a small town kid from New York who likes to draw," Price said.
Pepsi recently dropped BVO in Gatorade after a similar petition gained 200,000 signatures.
100 countries have already banned BVO and Price is hoping her efforts will lead to big changes in the United States.
BVO, which stands for brominated vegetable oil, is found in many citrus-flavored beverages in order to prevent the flavoring from separating from the rest of the soda or sports drink. The main ingredient which causes concern is bromine. Studies have found the bromine from BVO can actually build up in the body over time reaching levels that could be dangerous to people's health. In particular, individuals who drink more than two liters a day of beverages with BVO have reported memory loss, skin complications, and nerve problems. While the FDA continues to allow BVO to be used as a food additive, Japan and many European countries have banned their use in foods and drinks. (Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bvo/AN02200)
Drinks to Avoid: Drinks containing BVO are not the only harmful beverages sold in the United States. Here are the top drinks that are dangerous to your health and why you should avoid them:
- Diet soda – Aspartame, an artificial sweetener, has been shown to cause migraine headaches along with other health problems. The body also releases insulin in response to artificial sweeteners, which causes blood sugar levels to drop, and makes the person hungry.
- Coffee drinks – Having one of those creamy coffee drinks is often the equivalent to sucking down a large dessert. A 16 ounce frozen coffee drink can have anywhere from 300 to more than 500 calories, and that's not even including whipped cream. (Source: womenshealth.about.com/od/fitnessandhealth/a/urwhatudrink_3.htm)
- Energy drinks – Many energy drink manufacturers try to get around disclosing exactly how much caffeine and other energy-boosting chemicals are in their beverages, which is worrisome on its own. The overload of caffeine can be dangerous and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that in 2009, more than 13,000 emergency room visits were associated with energy drinks alone. (Source: thinkprogress.org/health/2012/11/15/1194451/energy-drinks-dangerous/)
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