Health alert 'Bitters' can cause breast cancer - Research

The investigations were carried out on a collection of samples of bitters purchased directly from the manufacturers of the product on their premises in Accra.

  • Published:
Some alcoholic bitters displayed on a counter play

Some alcoholic bitters displayed on a counter

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A team of researchers has disclosed that alcoholic beverages popularly called “bitters” are harmful to human health and are now known to increase the risk of breast cancer in women.

 In a 15 paged report entitled “Quantitative Analysis of Chemical Contaminants in Ghanaian Herbal Alcoholic Bitters,” the researchers revealed that “the production of these drinks (bitters) is widespread and poorly regulated and are produced in what can best be described as bathrooms.”

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The researchers have determined that the presence of phthalates in bitters responsible for causing cancer was from the materials used in manufacturing Polytanks and Sintex used as water reservoir for cold percolation processes by the companies involved in the production of the alcoholic bitters. According to the report, the drinks are most of the time kept for long periods in these water reservoirs until they are ready for bottling.

The report also reveals that chemical contaminants in bitters have shown reproductive and developmental toxicity in animal experiments and are known to affect semen production in men.

The researchers; Kwaku Kyeremeh, Felix Worlanyo Agbemafo and Regina Appiah-Opong are acknowledged as some of the best in Africa and in the world and were drawn from the Marine and Plant Research Laboratory, Department of Chemistry and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research all of the University of Ghana.

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The investigations were carried out on a collection of samples of bitters purchased directly from the manufacturers of the product on their premises in Accra.

Two different batches of the product were purchased in the months of May and November, 2012 respectively, and each box of the herbal alcoholic drink purchased contained six 750ml bottles of the drinks.

The six bottles of each product in the same box were treated as the same batch samples, allowing enough volumes for all the desired analysis to be performed for each batch.

All the ten selected drinks were also studied for trace metal content and anti-microbial activity.

According to the researchers, five most patronized brands out of the ten were chosen to investigate for any insoluble organic compounds.

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Bitters have grown increasingly popular amongst many households in Ghana and are promoted with hilarious advertisements on the television and on the Radio.  They are believed to aid sexual performance and are also ingested as an appetizer by many people.

The respected researchers have cautioned that, despite the perceived benefits, patrons of these alcoholic bitters may be ingesting contaminants which may have some health implications.

Click to read the full report here: 'Bitters' can cause breast cancer - Research

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