You may want to put that soda can down.
A common preservative found in drinks such as Coca-Cola, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, Fanta and Diet Pepsi may cause serious cell damage, according to a report in Britain's The Independent.
Sodium benzoate has the ability to switch off vital parts of a person's DNA, according to research from a British university.
The problem is usually associated with aging and alcohol abuse, but new findings show that drinking soda with the preservative can eventually lead to cirrhosis of the liver and degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's.
Sodium benzoate, which derives from benzoic acid, has been used for years by the carbonated drinks industry to prevent mold from developing in soft drinks. The ingredient has been the subject of concern on cancer, because when mixed with Vitamin C, it turns into a carcinogenic substance called benzene, the Independent reported.
Last year, a Food Standards Agency survey of benzene in drinks found high levels in four brands that were removed from store shelves.
"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," said Peter Piper, a professor of molecular biology and biotechnology.