Harmful levels of hydrogen peroxide in some energy drinks may explain cancer risk trends in the age group who consume them, a Monash University study has found.
Professor Louise Bennett, who led the study, says the levels of hydrogen peroxide in some energy drinks were found to be 15,000-fold higher than the natural levels produced in the body.
“The research indicates that people are drinking diluted hydrogen peroxide when they consume some energy drinks,” Prof Bennett said in a statement.
“The long term effects may explain some cancer risk trends in the age group who consume energy drinks.”
The body produces low levels of hydrogen peroxide – less than 0.0003 mg/kg – as a signalling molecule that can be inactivated by cellular processes.
The research, published on Thursday in Food Chemistry, notes hydrogen peroxide is usually used for sanitisation with residues of up to 5mg/kg allowed in food or beverage products in Australia.
In many countries, the permitted levels are lower at up to 0.5mg/kg.
The researchers analysed the levels of hydrogen peroxide in a range of commercial beverages and found that some chemical combinations of ingredients can drive this chemistry.
Prof Bennett hopes the research will lead to new standards for avoiding the production of hydrogen peroxide in these beverages.
“Our current research is addressing how to avoid or degrade the hydrogen peroxide,” she said.