Did you know that there’s a natural chemical found in fruit that can cause Parkinson’s? It’s true. Fruit such as cranberries, prunes, plums, and apples contain the chemical. So do spices like cinnamon and ripe cloves. But the amount you’ll find in these foods is probably too small to cause the disease.
However, food manufacturers use this chemical in much higher doses as a preservative. And the amount they use can easily cause health problems.
Until recently, researchers considered this chemical safe. But now we know that when you take it in the doses required for food preservation, it causes serious cell damage. In fact, it destroys vital parts of your DNA.
The chemical I’m talking about is benzoic acid.
If you’ve ever read the label of canned and bottled foods and drinks, you’ve probably seen benzoic acid on the label. Benzoic acid comes in two “flavors,” sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate. These compounds are preservatives that have bacteriostatic and fungistatic activity. That means that while they are not able to kill bacteria and fungi, in high enough doses, they can stop their growth.
Benzoic acid works only in acidic conditions (pH< 3.6). So it effectively preserves the shelf life of acidic foods. These include citric acid (preserves, jams, fruit juices), vinegar (salad dressings, pickles, etc.), carbonic acid (sodas and carbonated drinks, such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi Max, Diet Pepsi, Sprite, Oasis, and Dr. Pepper), and Chinese food (soy, mustard, and duck sauces).
The most common way people get too much sodium and potassium benzoate is with soft drinks. Check the label – it can be identified as either E211 (sodium benzoate) or E212 (potassium benzoate). Most people, about 75%, can taste benzoic acid. It tastes sweet, salty, or sometimes bitter depending on your taste buds.
The problem comes when you combine sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate in a product that also contains vitamin C. The two combine to form benzene. You may have heard about benzene. Last year, the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) measured the level of benzene in a number of popular drinks that contain either sodium or potassium benzoate as a preservative. It found high levels in the six brands mentioned above.
And there are two factors that can increase the amount of benzene in these products. The longer it sits on the shelf, the more benzene forms. And exposing it to heat or light will form more benzene.
So What’s Wrong With Benzene?
Benzene is not a natural ingredient in foods. It’s a product of crude oil, and is an industrial solvent. Manufacturers use it in the production of drugs, plastics, synthetic rubber, and dyes.
Benzene is dangerous in many ways. Breathing high levels of benzene can result in immediate death. Lower levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. Eating or drinking foods containing high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, stomach irritation, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, rapid heart rate, and death.
There have been several cases reported of women who breathed high levels of benzene for many months. It caused irregular menstrual periods and a decrease in the size of their ovaries. Animal studies have shown other complications when the animals breathed benzene. These include low birth weights, delayed bone formation, and bone marrow damage.
Even Bigger Problems With This Additive
However, there are much more common problems. These come when you consume lower doses of benzene over a longer period of time.
When benzene is absorbed into the bloodstream, it damages the bone marrow, which produces red and white blood cells. This effect on the bone marrow can be a cause of unexplained anemia. It also can depress the immune system and increase your risk of infection.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services classifies benzene as a carcinogen. That means it causes cancer. We also know that benzene causes leukemia – even from the amounts in preserved foods.
But there’s another problem with sodium benzoate. Professor Peter Piper is a professor of molecular biology and bio-technology at the University of Sheffield in England. He has studied the health effects of sodium benzoate for over 10 years. He discovered that sodium benzoate by itself, independent of the benzene issue, can cause problems. Like benzene, it too can damage and inactivate mitochondria. Mitochondria are the energy producers in every cell in your body (except red blood cells). The fact that a food additive can damage them is an astounding finding.
However, sodium benzoate doesn’t damage just the mitochondria. It also damages mitochondrial DNA. This DNA repairs the day-to-day damage that inevitably happens to your mitochondria. It’s also what allows the mitochondria to reproduce. This is a sure recipe for disaster.
As Dr. Piper says, “The mitochondria consume the oxygen that gives you energy. When you damage them — as happens in a number of diseased states — then the cell starts to malfunction very seriously. And there is a whole array of diseases that are now tied to damage to mitochondrial DNA. These include Parkinson’s and quite a lot of neuro-degenerative diseases. But above all, the whole process of aging.”
The Real Cause of All Disease
Actually, as bad as it sounds, Dr. Piper is understating the problem. Defective mitochondria are the principle factor in every single disease of aging from cancer to osteoporosis. Read that again – every disease, including the very process of aging itself!
Dr. Piper discovered the sodium benzoate effect by studying a species of yeast called saccharomyces cerevisiae. This is the same yeast that beer makers use. The particular strain of saccharomyces cerevisiae he used can distinguish between a compound that damages mitochondria from free radicals from one that damages mitochondrial DNA. Using this system, he found that sodium benzoate does both. This is very sobering considering the large-scale consumption of sodium benzoate in our modern diets.
“These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate them. They knock them out altogether,” says Dr. Piper. Dr. Piper’s work prompted Norman Baker, the chairman of Parliament’s environment committee to say: “Many additives are relatively new and their long-term impact cannot be certain. This preservative clearly needs to be investigated further by the FSA.”
In 2000 the World Health Organization reviewed the safety of sodium benzoate and concluded that it was safe. But it noted that the available science supporting its safety was “limited.” This means that the studies originally conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration showing it was “safe” were old and outdated. They aren’t accurate by today’s standards.
Dr. Piper went further: “The food industry will say these compounds have been tested and they are completely safe,” he said. “But by the criteria of modern safety testing, the safety tests were inadequate. Like all things, safety testing moves forward and you can now conduct a much more rigorous safety test than you could 50 years ago.”
So what can you do? First, avoid buying soft drinks with benzoates until research proves these quantities are safe. In fact, avoid benzoates as much as possible. There’s no reason to consume it, and doing so could cause Parkinson’s or some other disease.
And don’t be all that reassured when the food industry tells you that the chemicals they are feeding you are safe.
Second, treat your drinking water with ozone. Here’s why:
Water Systems Contaminated With Benzene
More and more reports are showing that many city water supplies have unacceptable levels of benzene. A few years ago, a report confirmed that an aquifer that supplies much of Miami Dade County had benzene levels that are five times the EPA-allowed level. The report goes into corporate shenanigans and cover-ups of company wrong doing. It shows that the public interest in these matters is less important than the corporate interests. That said, you need protection.
Since benzene is a known carcinogen, the allowable level is one part per billion (ppb). However, there really is no safe level of a man-made pollutant. Worse, while one ppb may be considered safe by a government that caters to corporations, no one considers the synergism of one ppb of thousands of other chemicals, drugs and metals released into the water supply. You know they are there. It’s been in the world press! But your water company either can’t or won’t test for all of them. There are just too many.
So please get a reverse osmosis water system for your home. I use one. But it’s not the only way to get rid of these contaminants. There’s one additional method of ridding your water of these organic chemical toxins that is well worth considering. That is ozone. You know ozone as one of my most favorite medical treatments.
Ozone is made up of three oxygen atoms. Its symbol is O3. The oxygen we breathe is O2. Ozone is the most powerful naturally occurring oxidizing substance. It will react with virtually any organic chemical and destroy it. How? Organic chemicals contain double bonds, and ozone pulls these double bonds apart.
Home ozone water purification machines are readily available. You can buy a cost effective machine from Longevity Resources of British Columbia. With it, you can ozonate your drinking water. That will wipe out any infectious agent in the water, and oxidize all organic chemicals. Furthermore, ozonated water is highly medicinal in its own right. Ozone is soluble in water. Its use will help wipe out unwanted germs from your mouth and gums, esophagus, and stomach. Absorbed into your body, it will help flush your liver of toxins and improve your immune and circulation systems.
This is a versatile device for home water purification. It won’t remove fluoride or heavy metals from your water. For that, you’ll need distillation or reverse osmosis. But for pharmaceutical or chemical contamination of your water, it’s excellent. Please call Longevity Resources toll free 1-877-543-3398 (or 001 250 654 0092 from outside Canada/USA). You can also visit their website (www.ozonegenerator.com) or email them ([email protected]) and their friendly Product Specialists will help you purchase a system that’s right for you. Tell them you’re a Second Opinion reader and they will give you a discount on your order.
Health begins at home, with a good diet and clean environment. You take in more water per day than anything else but air. Please be sure that it is not poisoning you. By the time the corporate-owned government will admit it’s there, you will have been long poisoned.
Hickman, Martin. “Report: Soda May Seriously Harm Your Health,” Consumer Affairs Correspondent, The Independent. 27 May 2007.
Piper, P.W. “Yeast superoxide dismutase mutants reveal a pro-oxidant action of weak organic acid food preservatives.” Free Radic Biol Med. 1999 December;27(11-12):1219-27.