Peter Piper Picked a Pack of Pickled Products | Science | Smithsonian

Peter Piper Picked a Pack of Pickled Products

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You know those elementary school science fair experiments where the kid tests whether tap water or Coca-Cola are better sources of nutrition for houseplants or gerbils or whatever? Turns out that those silly kids do indeed have job prospects out in the real world. Sodium benzoate, a common preservative used widely in soft drinks, might "switch off" vital parts of DNA--namely, the mighty mitochrondria, which basically are the power source of cells. "These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it: they knock it out altogether," University of Sheffield biologist Peter Piper pronounced to packs of panicked people.  The damage contributes to symptoms usually seen in alcoholism, Parkinson's and aging. As well as being a crucial part of the massive $147 billion soft drink industry, sodium benzoate is also used in sauces and pickles (seriously). Of course, the report already prodded Parliament to investigate--especially on the heels of a discovery last year that sodium benzoate, when mixed with vitamin C, can create cancerous benzene.
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