You can file this article under “another reason to avoid processed foods.

“In an earlier post, I explained that when the chemical preservative sodium benzoate mixes with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), benzene forms as a byproduct. Benzene is an aggressive carcinogen, even in minute amounts. That’s why I strongly recommend avoiding fruit-flavored soft drinks, which are often made with both sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid.

But now there is news that sodium benzoate itself could be responsible for DNA damage. Peter Piper, an English professor of molecular biology and biotechnology at Sheffield University, has been studying this common preservative for the past seven years. When he tested the impact of the substance on living yeast cells, he was alarmed to find that the benzoate was damaging the “power station” of all cells, the mitochondria.

Speaking to The Independent, Piper said, “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.”

Damage the energy production capacity of a cell, and the cell will begin to malfunction in a serious way. Piper suggests that a number of conditions, including Parkinson’s, cirrhosis of the liver, and accelerated aging, can be linked to this type of damage.

The bottom line is this. We really don’t know what many of the “harmless” artificial ingredients and chemical preservatives in our food will do to us. In most cases, the long-term effects are unknown. So, as always, stick to whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. And think twice – make that three times – about buying soft drinks that contain sodium benzoate.

Jon Herring is the former Health Editor and copywriter for Early To Rise. While his formal education is in finance, Jon has invested over 3000 hours in the study of health and nutrition. He is deeply motivated to provide people with the information and the inspiration to live a long and active life, filled with energy and free from disease. Jon has also been a student of direct sales and marketing since an early age. Before he was 10 years old, he was selling door to door, and he has been an active entrepreneur ever since. After graduating from the University of Georgia in 1993, Jon moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he learned how to build houses, climb mountains, catch trout, and ski fast down hill. However, after several years of poverty with a nice view, Jon returned to his hometown of Nashville to seek his fortune. Within two years – at the age of 26 – he had started a direct marketing business that was earning six figure annual revenues. In addition to his passion for health, Jon has a strong interest in business and investing. He is also a staunch advocate for honest government and the libertarian values of privacy, freedom, and personal responsibility.

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