English Assignment


I need an eleven-page paper with work cited at the end of the paper. I will upload my proposal and annotated bibliography. The bibliography has twenty sources, use all of the sources in writing the paper. Finally, use single space in listing the citation


Consumption of Large Volumes of Caramel-Colored Soft Drinks Increases the Risks of Getting Cancer


Introduction. 2

The Causal Link between Caramel Coloring in Soft Drinks and Cancer. 3

Role of Soft Drinks in Increasing the Risk of Cancer. 4

Current Progress in the Debate on the Relationship between Caramel-Colored Soft Drinks and Increased Cancer Risk  6

Ways of Reducing the Cancer Risks Associated With Caramel-Colored Soft Drinks. 9

Conclusion. 11

References. 13


            The modern society has overwhelmingly embraced the use of caramel as a coloring agent in soft drinks. Unfortunately, caramel is associated with a number of health problems, chiefly cancer. At Hopkins University, researchers have found that caramel causes cancer. This is bad news for contemporary society because over 50 percent of today’s population aged over six years consumes at least one soda every day. This dietary trend goes a long way in exposing them to huge volumes of caramel, thereby increasing their chances of getting cancer. Such a worrying situation casts a pale shadow of the government’s lack of commitment to protecting its citizens against this public health threat. It is the responsibility of the government to enlighten its citizens on the potential health risks posed by various substances contained in food items, and wherever necessary, to ban the use of such substances.


            Other than the role of government and the impact of food consumption practices on human health, this topic also touches on the all-important debate on commercial interests. It is regrettable that the government seems to be letting commercial interests reign over the public health. However, the findings on the role of 4-methylimidazole, the chemical element contained in caramel, in causing cancer is far from conclusive. It warrants an in-depth investigation, and this is precisely what this paper sets out to do. The thesis of this paper is that consumption of large volumes of caramel-colored soft drinks increases the risks of getting cancer. This investigation is of utmost importance because it will shed light on the rationale for soft drink coloring and what the public knows about the use of caramel for aesthetic and/or nutritional purposes.

The Causal Link between Caramel Coloring in Soft Drinks and Cancer

            Large volumes of medical literature seem to support the claim that the use of caramel in soft drink coloring causes cancer. 4-methylimidazole is the by-product that gets released into the human body system when caramel food color is used in soft drinks. When consumed in high enough quantities, this by-product is believed to increase one’s risk of getting cancer (Trager, 2015). This finding was arrived at following a joint study conducted by U.S. Consumer Reports and John Hopkins University (Trager, 2015). Based on these findings, the suggested that regulatory measures need to be taken to reduce the amount of 4-methylimidazole that is contained in caramel. However, these findings have been viewed rather skeptically by some researchers as well as industry operators.

            Most U.S. regulatory agencies consider risk to be acceptable if it exposes one out of a million individuals to cancer. In the case of the caramel amounts that are used in soft drinks, the risk of cancer is thought to exceed one out of a million individuals. This risk is significantly increased because of the tendency by many Americans to consume many soft drinks per day. Some of the soft drinks associated with high amounts of caramel include Diet Pepsi, Malta Goya, and Pepsi One, in which case one per 10,000 individuals was thought to be exposed to the risk of developing cancer, thereby exceeding the accepted threshold of risk. According to the FDA, the levels of 4-methylimidazole that have been found to cause cancer in rodents in experiments are significantly higher than the ones contained in soft drinks. This line of argument creates the impression that the government is in denial of the potential dangers posed by routine consumers of soft drinks, majority of which contain caramel as a coloring agent.

            Martin (2015) also reports on a research finding that portrayed caramel color as a possible carcinogen. The finding indicates that the ingredient is not necessary in soft drinks since it only serves to give them their characteristic dark color. The most important thing to note about this ingredient is that consumers do not really need it since manufacturers of beverages add it primarily for aesthetic reasons. Although it may be difficult to single out specific brands that expose consumers to a higher risk of getting cancer, it is necessary for studies to be conducted for purposes of comparing caramel levels in different soft drinks that are in the market today. In this case, one would expect substantial variation across samples to occur, thereby providing a justification for the imposition of regulatory structures by the government. Such efforts would go a long way in protecting public health.

Role of Soft Drinks in Increasing the Risk of Cancer

            Many research findings have demonstrated that soft drinks are associated with an increased risk of developing cancer. Most of these findings have been derived from systematic reviews and meta-analyses (Anne, 2010). However, as stated earlier, the debate is ongoing, and mixed findings have become a common phenomenon. For example, Anne (2010) claims that the relationship between consumption of soft drinks and the risk of cancer is restricted, while Cuomo, Andreozzi & Zito (2014) point out that there is proof that consumption of soft drinks is one of the causes of digestive cancer and pancreatic cancer. Carbonated soft drinks have also been thought to contribute to gastrointestinal cancer (Cuomo, Andreozzi & Zito, 2014). This view is supported by Gallus et al. (2010), who indicate that soft drinks can affect pancreatic carcinogenesis because of the fact that they contain both sugar and caffeine. Using the meta-analytic approach, Gallus et al (2010) carried out a study in Italy between 1991 and 2008, combining research findings from all studies on pancreatic cancer and soft drinks that had been published prior to 2010. Although an effect on pancreatic carcinogenesis was found to exist, there was no manifestation of material alignment between soft drinks and the risk of pancreatic cancer (Gallus et al., 2010).

            As the debate on the impact of artificial sweeteners on the carcinogenic process rages on, researchers are increasingly developing hypothesis aimed at creating a deeper understanding of this disturbing phenomenon (Cuomo, Andreozzi & Zito, 2014). Of particular importance is the role of caramel in the development of cancer among consumers of soft drinks. At the same time, researchers are keen to examine the overall harmful effects of consuming too many soft drinks, specifically the risk of getting cancer (Aune, 2010; Lagergren, Viklund & Jansson, 2006; Boyle, Autier & Koechlin, 2014; Ren et al., 2007; Samantha, 2015).

            One of the conditions that heavy consumers of carbonated soft drinks might possibly be at risk of getting is esophageal adenocarcinoma. Although the relationship between soft drink consumption and esophageal adenocarcinoma has been rather difficult to prove, researchers observe that increased consumption of soft drinks that are colored with caramel have coincided with an increased distribution of the condition (Viklund & Jansson, 2006). Similarly, attempts have been made to determine whether consuming soft drinks increases the risk of gastrointestinal tract cancer (Ren et al., 2007). The main hypothesis in this case is that the drinks, particularly the carbonated ones increase the risk of getting esophageal adenocarcinoma and gastric reflux. However, case-control studies indicate that there is no association with esophageal or laryngeal cancers. The lack of clarity regarding soft drinks as possible causes of esophageal adenocarcinoma has been contributed to by dearth of research in this area. This means that further research should be conducted in this area to determine the potential role of specific ingredients such as caramel in the development of esophageal and laryngeal cancers.

            These findings indicate that some of the ingredients that are added into soft drinks as sweeteners or for aesthetic reasons such as coloring are indeed potential carcinogens. In this case a lot of focus has been on the role of caramel as a possible carcinogen. Although there is no explicit mention of the substance in most studies, one can deduce that it is the main target of successive scientific experiments that seek to identify the specific ingredients that cause the drinks to be associated with increased cancer risks. For example, following the mixed findings that emerged out of initial studies on the role of soft drinks in growing risk of gastrointestinal cancer, successive studies to provide clarity to the debate were conducted. These studies proved that soft drinks indeed have a causal relationship with this type of cancer (Cuomo et al., 2014). Nevertheless, a debate still exists over the ways in which artificial additives such as caramel affect the carcinogenic process. Presently, research efforts are confined to the search of causative relationships between carbonated drinks and the risk of cancer. In one such a research study, Cuomo et al. (2014) found that there is a relationship between the risk of pancreatic cancer and the consumption of carbonated drinks. Previous research findings had alluded to the existence of a similar relationship (Gallus et al., 2010). For the debate to move forward, future studies should focus on how the carcinogenic process is affected by specific ingredients contained in soft drinks such as 4-methylimidazole.

Current Progress in the Debate on the Relationship between Caramel-Colored Soft Drinks and Increased Cancer Risk

            There is compelling evidence that caramel-colored soft drinks lead to an increased risk of developing cancer. Yet for some reason, there is an element of complacency among both government agencies and the citizens themselves. Part of the reason why this complacency abounds is perhaps because the debate has largely been confined to the scholarly circles. Even then, some of the research findings get published in popular commentary sections of print and electronic media and even attract comments from agencies such as the FDA. This is a worrying situation, given that heavy consumption of these soft drinks is associated with a wide range of cancers, including gastrointestinal cancer, pancreatic cancer, laryngeal cancer, and esophageal adenocarcinoma.


            Fortunately, a debate is emerging against the backdrop of increased public sensitization programs by non-governmental organizations, medical associations, human rights activists, commentators, and public health experts. In this debate, a lot of focus is on research findings and what they reveal about the impact of caramel-colored soft drinks and increased cancer risks. These forerunners have particularly been irked by the continued use of unnecessary additives and colorants such as caramel even after alarm has been raised regarding their possible role as carcinogens. In best-case scenarios, soft drink and fast foods companies would have already started demonstrating their sense of social responsibility by sponsoring research studies aimed at ascertaining the validity of the claims. Instead, the companies remain tight-lipped on the debate, and this goes a long way to show that they are an integral part of the serious public health problem confronting society today.  

            As Appleton & Jacobs (2004) point out, the main reason why many people are saying many terrible things about caramel-colored soft drinks is that is that those things are true. It is only that many people find it difficult to swallow the hard truth particularly in light of the popularity of various brands of soft drinks. At the same, greed in the beverage industry is largely to blame for the ongoing destruction of citizen’s health. In their analysis, Appleton & Jacobs (2004) show that most soft drinks contain harmful additives. These observations are supported by compelling research evidence demonstrating that the declining health status of society corresponds with increasing consumption of soft drinks. This evidence, which is mainly derived from homeostatic and body chemistry, shows that the human race is at crossroads because increasing consumption has greatly contributed not just to cancer risks but also risk of other diseases, including hypertension, stroke, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

            In the present debate, attention is being drawn to the finding that 50 percent of all sugars being consumed are found in soft and fruit drinks (Bray, 2013). As a corollary to this observation, scientific researchers have been quick to point out that one of the most serious problems that is being associated soft drink consumption is cancer (Jacobson, 2005; Bray, 2013; Denehy, 2003). In these efforts, the researchers often go an extra mile to provide detailed scientific explanations on how specific health problems arise due to heavy soft drink consumption. For example, Bray (2013) observes that people who consume large quantities of soft drinks tend to have increased body weight and liver fat in addition to a huge mass of visceral adipose tissue. Moreover, the drinks alter the structure of blood lipids, thereby contributing to cancer, gout, stroke, and diabetes (Bray, 2013; Larsson, Wolk & Akesson, 2014). As these findings become publicized, growing attention is being directed to the unnecessary additives and colorants such as caramel, which are an embodiment of contemporary soft-drink brand popularity.

            The case of soft drinks and the growing risk of cancer shows that modern technology has its benefits as well as perils. Against this backdrop, it seems that humanity has blindly embraced innovative technologies without examining the dark side that very few people may be willing to highlight (Ashton & Laura, 1999). Indeed, it is foolhardy for people to think that drinking carbonated soft drinks that have been colored using caramel, a possible carcinogen, is a symbol of modernity and sophistication simply because the potential dangers involved have not yet been highlighted by policymakers and government agencies. Nevertheless, one may hope that as public concern continues to grow, government agencies and manufacturers will swing into action as a way of avoiding mass protests.

Ways of Reducing the Cancer Risks Associated With Caramel-Colored Soft Drinks

            As citizens wait for stakeholders to take action and address the public health concerns associated with soft drinks, a number of suggestions are being made on how the cancer risks associated with those drinks can be reduced. One important observation is that young people are among the most ardent consumers of carbonated soft drinks and colas that have been colored using caramel. It may be a good thing for the availability of these drinks in the learning institutions to be reduced not only as a way of discouraging young people from consuming them but also as a strategy of raising awareness on the health risks involved (Denehy, 2003). Indeed, some learning institutions have gone to the extreme end, banning the sale and consumption of soft drinks within their jurisdictions (Vartanian, Schwartz & Brownell, 2007).

            Nevertheless, this suggestion may not work if the children are not being inducted into healthy eating habits at home. Student may find it hard to understand why they are being prevented from consuming soft drinks at home yet their parents at home have made the drinks an integral part of daily dietary intake. For healthy eating habits to be promoted, Americans must be enlightened about the various ways in which caramel-colored soft drinks are harming their health (Jacobson, 2005). According to Jacobson (2005), awareness about the soft drinks’ contribution to caloric intake has also been created, meaning that the same can be extended to the relationship between the consumption of these drinks and the direct risk of cancer. One way to raise this awareness is to demonstrate how findings of different studies have generated similar findings as far as the risk of cancer is concerned. For example, Jacobson’s (2005) findings regarding the direct risk of cancer due to the consumption of caramel-colored carbonated soft drinks were corroborated by a recent study by Larsson, Wolk & Akesson (2014). Similarly, Masur (2008) provides compelling evidence of the molecular links to soft drinks’ potential to cause cancer. According to Masur (2008), inflammatory progression that is triggered by possible carcinogens such as caramel triggers cellular changes in the body, which heighten the risk of cancer.

            Many other researchers have provided in-depth scientific explanations on why consumption of caramel-colored colas and other soft drinks contributes to cancer risk (Nseir, 2003; Ottoboni & Ottoboni, 2013; Trager, 2015; Cuomo, Andreozzi & Zito, 2014; Ren et al., 2007). Such an approach can greatly help to raise the profile of the cancer risk in just the same way that researchers successfully did in regards to the increasing caloric intake due to consumption of carbonated soft drinks. In Nseir’s (2003) investigation, emphasis is on not just the role soft drinks in creating extra sugars that cause metabolic syndrome but also the hard truths about the association between soft drinks and cancer. The main lesson to be drawn here is that the pairing of the two themes (increased caloric intake and cancer risk) can go a long way in raising awareness regarding the latter problem. Although the two themes are not necessarily related, pairing them is an excellent way of encouraging people to accord urgent attention to cancer risk just as they do increased caloric intake. All these efforts should be geared towards providing a rationale for the public interest groups to lobby for the removal of unnecessary additives, sweeteners, and colorants such as caramel from soft drinks.

            Lastly, cancer risk can effectively be reduced by treating the soft drink problem as a nutritional problem. For this approach to succeed, it would be equally important to treat cancer as a contemporary nutritional disease (Ottoboni & Ottoboni, 2013). Ottoboni & Ottoboni (2013), there are many biomedical facts that strongly support a case for such a paradigm shift in the ongoing debate on how soft drinks increase cancer risk. Such a debate would encourage people to rethink their embracement of contemporary food technology advances. It would also encourage policymakers and government agencies to introduce regulatory measures aimed at protecting the public from unnecessary additives such as caramel that help beverage companies to perpetuate their commercial interests at the expense of public health. Once consumers change their consumption culture, it will be easy for them to shun dangerous products that endanger public health (Singer, 2009).


            The findings of this investigation demonstrate that there is indeed a relationship between the use of caramel-colored soft drinks and the increased risk of cancer. Thus, the paper confirms the thesis that consumption of large volumes of caramel-colored soft drinks increases the risks of getting cancer. Meanwhile, the most depressing thing about this phenomenon is that the level of public awareness regarding this risk is fairly low. In research circles, the debate on the specific role that additives such as caramel play in increasing the risk of cancer is ongoing. Although mixed findings have sometimes emerged, most researchers agree that there is a direct relationship between increased consumption of caramel-colored soft drinks and heightened cancer risk. In this regard, the main cancers that have investigated in scientific literature include pancreatic cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, laryngeal cancer, digestive cancer, and esophageal adenocarcinoma.

            In conclusion, a number of measures can be taken to reduce the risk of cancer. First, the availability of soft drinks should be restricted, especially in learning institutions. An even better solution would be the removal of unnecessary additives such as caramel from soft drinks altogether. Second, children should inducted into healthy eating habits at home at an early age. Third, researchers should continue to investigate the relationship between soft drinks and cancer risk in order to raise the profile of this dangerous public health problem. Lastly, cancer risk can effectively be reduced by treating the cancer risk arising from soft drink consumption as a nutritional problem, thereby triggered renewed efforts to promote a change of consumption culture among consumers.


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