Many people consume large amounts of highly caffeinated soda for a boost of energy, but an ingredient in the beverages, known as brominated vegetable oil (BVO), may cause a variety of unpleasant side effects.
Brominated vegetable oil is patented by chemical companies for use as a flame retardant, and the substance has been banned throughout Europe and Japan. BVO, however, has been added to sodas in North America for decades, and is found in 10 percent of sodas in the U.S., including Mountain Dew. Patients who binge on the sugary drinks have reportedly experienced skin lesions, memory loss, and nerve disorders, which indicate overexposure to bromine. The results of some studies show BVO may build up in human tissues, and large doses have been found to cause reproductive and behavioral problems in mice, according to Scientific American.
Beverage makers say BVO is safe and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but Charles Vorhees, a toxicologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, disagrees. “Compounds like these that are in widespread use probably should be reexamined periodically with newer technologies to ensure that there aren’t effects that would have been missed by prior methods,” he told Scientific American. “I think BVO is the kind of compound that probably warrants some reexamination.”