Things go (down) better with Coke

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Speaking of which, a new unanticipated benefit of fizzy soft drinks seems to have been discovered. What could this be, you ask? Treating, non-surgically, a phytobezoar, an uncommon but potentially dangerous condition.

A phytobezoar occurs when undigested plant matter such as seeds or fibers gets trapped in the stomach or intestines, sometimes causing bowel blockage. And it turns out there's an odd, but tasty treatment for this: Coca-Coca.

Researchers led by Dr. D. Kamberoglou of Athens University in Greece conducted a review of scientific papers published from 2002-2012, finding 24 papers involving 46 patients over 90 percent of whom (42 out of 46) had been successfully treated with Coca-Cola to dissolve the blockage. The study was published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

"Coca-Cola was administered either as a drinking beverage (n=22) or as lavage (n=16), whereas 8 patients had various combinations with drink, injection and irrigation," the authors write. In about half the cases, Coca-Cola completely dissolved the gastric phytobezoar, and doctors were able to remove the blockage with an endoscope in the other half.

"Coca-Cola administration is a cheap, easy-to-perform and safe procedure that can be accomplished at any endoscopy unit," the authors write. "Moreover, lavage can be offered at bedside or even patients may drink the beverage at home."

Diet Coca-Cola is equally effective, they added. Why Coke works to treat bezoars "has not been determined, but its acidity similar to that of the stomach contents, is thought to be important for fibre digestion." Its effervescence may also enhance the dissolving mechanism, the authors write.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom wonders whether Mayor Bloomberg will require monitors in doctors offices to ensure that no more than 16 ounces is administered during any one treatment.