You, the American soda consumer, should be aware that your precious swill contains a chemical called 4-MeI, which has the unfortunate side effect of giving humans cancer. How many of you will get a deadly disease as a direct result of this chemical? Consumer Reports kindly figured out the answer.

It's unfortunate that 4-MeI gives people cancer, but soda executives have little choice but to add it to the beverages you drink, because it plays the important role of... let me just check here... ah, yes, the role of making soda brown. And if we didn't add deadly chemical brown coloring to soda, where would be, as a society? Life is not perfect.

Consumer Reports went to the trouble of analyzing 4-MeI levels in soda samples and then doing a little math and here you go, Diet Coke addicts:

Among the more than half of Americans age 6 to 64 who drink soda on a typical day, it turns out that the average intake ranges from a little more than one 12-ounce can to nearly 2.5 cans a day...

Our analysis shows that at this level of consumption, we would expect to see between 76 and 5,000 cases of cancer in the U.S. over the next 70 years from 4-MeI exposure alone. "We don't think any food additive, particularly one that's only purpose is to color food brown, should elevate people's cancer risk," says [toxicologist Urvashi] Rangan. "Ideally, 4-MeI should not be added to food."

Ideally, this carcinogenic chemical should not be added to food on purpose because we know that will cause dozens or possibly thousands of cancer deaths in the coming decades. But what are you gonna drink—Sprite? Come on.

[Photo of actual death: Flickr]