Fanta screws with your mitochondria?

A researcher in the UK says a preservative found in a number of fizzy soft drinks and processed foods could "switch off vital parts of DNA," as reported today in the UK Independent. Here's more from their story:

[An] expert in ageing at Sheffield University, who has been working on sodium benzoate since publishing a research paper in 1999, has decided to speak out about another danger. Professor Peter Piper, a professor of molecular biology and biotechnology, tested the impact of sodium benzoate on living yeast cells in his laboratory. What he found alarmed him: the benzoate was damaging an important area of DNA in the "power station" of cells known as the mitochondria.

Link (from Warren Ellis)

Reader comments: EJMD says,

Professor Peter Piper, the molecular biologist who, according to the extract from the article in The Independent, found sodium benzoate had an effect on mitochondria, may be more familiar to BoingBoing readers for his work with pickled peppers. According to Goose, M., (no date) the question regarding the location of the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked remains unresolved. Link.

Rob says,

Sodium benzoate apparently "causes" benzene, according to that news article. Gawd I love science reporting in the media…

"Sodium benzoate has already been the subject of concern about cancer because when mixed with the additive vitamin C in soft drinks, it causes benzene, a carcinogenic substance."