I can see the headline now: "Coke is good for you!" -- amid much teeth-grinding among the food freaks
Doctors are using Coca-Cola to treat a painful stomach condition, sparing patients from surgery. They have discovered that the fizzy drink is highly effective at dealing with a condition known as a gastric phytobezoar.
This is a stomach blockage which, unless it is successfully removed or destroyed, can subsequently lead to a bowel obstruction.
It is often caused by certain fruits which do not digest properly - for instance, in Asia many cases are a result of eating persimmons which are particularly prone to form blockages.
A variety of treatments are available to treat it, from lasers and non-surgical endoscopies to the last resort of full surgery.
Now, new research has shown that Coca-Cola has a success rate of more than 90 per cent in treating the condition.
This is because it has chemical ingredients that do a similar job to gastric acid - in helping to digest fibre - while the bubbles help speed up the process.
Even the Diet and Coke Zero options work, because they have the same basic ingredients as the 'full fat' version, said the report published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
The researchers from the University of Athens went through published academic papers that detailed 46 patients with the ailment who were treated with Coke in hospitals worldwide over the past 10 years.
Of those given Coca-Cola, exactly half saw the drink destroy the blockage completely and a further 19 only needed non-invasive treatments as a result of Coke's help. Only four needed full surgery, giving Coca-Cola a success rating of 91.3 per cent.
The study reported: 'Coca-Cola administration is a cheap, easy-to-perform and safe procedure that can be accomplished at any endoscopy unit.'
Coca-Cola has an acidity rating of 2.6 on the pH scale because it contains both carbonic and phosphoric acid.
The researchers added: 'It resembles gastric acid, which is thought to be important for fibre digestion. 'In addition the bubbles enhance the dissolving mechanism.'
If the Coke does not completely destroy whatever is causing the blockage then it is likely to make it smaller and soften the phytobezoar making it easy to remove without the need for full surgery, the report said.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).