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Thursday, 23 October 2014 00:00

Evidence of the antioxidant and chemopreventive effects of Coca-Cola

A study by the University of Cordoba and ceiA3, published in Toxicology Letters, proves through lab testing that the popular soda increases the lifespan in model organisms and inhibits the growth of tumour cells

When the pharmacist John Pemberton patented Coca-Cola 128 years ago, it was considered as medicine. He believed this syrup had the healing properties of the coca plant and it would lengthen life. A few years later, marketing turned his invention into the most consumed drink in the world, as beloved as it is hated, not only for its qualities as a beverage but for the fact that it is one of the great symbols of American capitalism. That perception facilitated the proliferation of numerous urban legends regarding the supposed corrosive properties of the soda.

However, a few days ago Coca-Cola managed to shed some of these labels thanks to a study published in the journal Toxicology Letters, signed by Marcos Mateo Fernandez, a young researcher at the University of Córdoba and Agrifood Campus of International Excellence ceiA3, and professor of Genetics Angeles Alonso, who directs his research within the research group AGR-158. These researchers have shown that Coca-Cola protects against oxidative damage and plays a role in inhibiting tumour cell growth. They have done so through in vivo testing, with what is known in the laboratory as a "model organism", the Drosophila melanogaster fly, where they evaluated antitoxicity, genotoxicity, antigenotoxicity, extent and quality of life of the popular soft drink, classic and free versions. In addition, the researchers at the University of Cordoba used another model for in vitro experiments: the HL-60 human leukaemia cell line in which the effects of both soda on tumour cells were analysed.

The conclusion is that both types of colas have antioxidative and chemopreventive effects in the laboratory. The same AGR-158 group tested other substances contained in these drinks, such as caffeine, although it does not exhibit such remarkable results in all trials as the full sodas.

The effects that this new research may have on the brand image of Coca-Cola remain to be seen. After all, the drink still has as many fans as it has detractors. The fans may raise the point of this study, and the latter could find support in the one published by the American Journal of Public Health, some weeks ago, which, after analysing the DNA of 5,309 habitual adult consumers of soft drinks, concluded that consumption of sugary drinks is associated with cellular aging.

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