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Today's Worry: Mountain Dew and Your Fertility

As if there wasn't enough to worry about during the holiday season, now you can add Mountain Dew to the list of concerns. The favorite soda of teenagers, especially those with an affinity for "gaming," could be bad for your fertility.

We came across this blog "Mountain Dew Ingredient May Reduce Fertility, Make You Flame Proof," thinking at first it was a joke. But no, unfortunately, it's not. And it's not a story about the old urban legends that Mountain Dew shrinks testicles or that its coloring lowers sperm counts.

Evidently, there is a synthetic chemical in the soda known as brominated vegetable oil (BVO) that has been banned in Europe and Japan, but it's found in 10 percent of sodas in North America, including Mountain Dew, Gatorade Orange, Fresca and Squirt.

According the Center for Science in the Public Interest, brominated vegetable oil is a clouding agent, an emulsifier used in soft drinks. "It's occasionally used to keep flavor oils in suspension and give a cloudy appearance to citrus-flavored soft drinks. Small residues of BVO remain in body fat, but it's unclear whether they pose any risk."

It appears that a recent article in Scientific American, Brominated Battle: Soda Chemical Has Cloudy Health History, says that some scientists are now urging a reassessment of BVO. The article goes on to mention that after a few extreme soda binges, some patients have needed medical attention for skin lesions, memory loss and nerve disorders, which are all symptoms of overexposure to bromine.

So why the reference to making us "flame proof?" Well, it seems that BVO, which is derived from soybean or corn, contains bromine atoms. These atoms weigh down the citrus flavoring so it mixes with sugar water. These atoms also slow down chemical reactions that cause a fire, thus brominated flame retardants have been added to polystyrene foam cushions in upholstered furniture and children's products, as well as plastics used in electronics.

Some research has suggested that brominated flame retardants are building up in people's bodies, including breast milk. In addition, mouse studies have found that big doses of the chemical caused reproductive and behavioral problems. Scientists are wondering whether BVO has these same risks.

It's important to note that BVO is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; however, some experts are saying the data is old, and the chemical should be re-examined for its toxicity.

Our recommendation: Just drink water (but not out of plastic water bottles, BPA, you know?)


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