During a Monash University study, harmful levels of hydrogen peroxide was found in some energy drinks, which may explain cancer risk trends in the age group of consumers.
Hydrogen peroxide is the chemical found in household bleach as well as hair dye.
Professor Louise Bennett, who led the study, stated that 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. The long term effects may explain some cancer risk trends in the age group who consume energy drinks." Professor Bennett stated.
It is known that the body only produces low levels of hydrogen peroxide, less than 0.0003 mg/kg.
The research was published in Food Chemistry, and notes that hydrogen peroxide is usually used for sanitisation. The residues are allowed to be 5mg/kg in food or beverage products in Australia, and in other countries the permitted levels are lower, at up to 0.5mg/kg.
The researchers of the study analysed the levels of hydrogen peroxide in a range of commercial beverages. They found that some chemical combinations of ingredients lead up to high levels of bleach.
Prof Bennett said that she hopes the research will lead to new standards for avoiding the production of hydrogen peroxide in these beverages, and added that "Our current research is addressing how to avoid or degrade the hydrogen peroxide."