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New research linking preservative with ADHD

FoodFacts.com wants to call our community’s attention to a new study from the Journal of Attention Disorders. So many times we read about a possible exacerbation of attention difficulties from various food preservatives and additives and this new study has found something that might appear to be more than a possible exacerbation.

Sodium benzoate is a preservative found in many different food products and beverages. It has long been recognized as generally safe in small amounts. And it has been recnogized to have harmful effects in certain circumstances. Its use is to prevent spoilage. And you’ll see it most often in acidic products like soda, jelly or jam or sauerkraut. Possible problems have been allergic reactions and the suggestion that it is a trigger for hyperactivity in children who have been diagnosed with ADHD. In addition, it is known to actually form benzene when combined with ascorbic acid. While the amount of benzene formed appears to be low, it does appear that the amounts of benzene formed in some beverages would be an actual health concern, since benzene has been linked to elevated risks for leukemia and other blood cancer. So, generally, sodium benzoate is a preservative that is – and has been – of concern.

This new study focused on college students who habitually consumed high levels of beverages containing sodium benzoate, and those who did not. 475 students took part in the study in 2010. They were each asked about their consumption of beverages containing sodium benzoate. They were all assessed for symptoms of ADHD.

The study clearly found that consumption of beverages containing sodium benzoate had a significant association with symptoms for ADHD.

There were 67 students who displayed symptoms of ADHD who reported consuming more than 35 servings per month of beverages containing sodium benzoate. These students scored a 4 or more on the symptom scale used. On the lower end were students consuming 17 servings per month of beverages containing sodium benzoate, who had the least amount of symptoms.

While further research is certainly needed, this study displays a recorded link between ADHD and sodium benzoate.

FoodFacts.com encourages our community, as always, to read labels carefully. While sodium benzoate is a common ingredient in sodas, it is present in other food products as well. Stay alert for the presence of this preservative on ingredient lists regardless of the food category.

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