New Delhi, India, Feb. 16, 2009 -- In a country where cows are sacred, drinking their urine is close to godliness. And better yet, it's marketable.
Along with protecting the bovine beast, the Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) wants to make a cola from the cow's urine, which they say has curative properties.
"It has been established that cow urine is capable of curing even cancer, so imagine a drink which would not only be tasty but also healthy," Om Prakash, leader of RSS, told ABC News.
Curing cancer with cow urine? Cancer prevention experts said this seems like an unlikely stretch.
"It's a claim from somebody that does not have any distinction or credentials, and it's an empty claim without scientific basis," said Dr. Sam Epstein, emeritus professor of environmental and occupational medicine at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health.
Dr. Donald Hensrud, chairman of the Division of Preventive Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., agreed. "I think I'm perfectly comfortable in saying that I'm aware of no data that cow's urine -- or any other species' urine -- holds any promise ... in treating or preventing cancer."
So How's It Taste?
The cola concoction is currently undergoing laboratory testing in the northern city of Lucknow. The group hopes it will be launched in the market by the end of this year. The RSS does not have the budget to compete with other major soda companies, but Prakash believes the product is unique.
"It won't be like carbonated drinks and would be devoid of any toxics or pesticides. What do you get by drinking colas? Nothing. It's all gas, and that too is not good for health," he said.
Keith-Thomas Ayoob, nutritionist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said there are a couple of potential problems with the drink, including the taste.
"Just trust me on this -- this drink really will require flavoring," Ayoob said. "If they use sugar or a caloric sweetener, then the world probably doesn't need another drink that's just a source of sugar calories, although this drink will probably have its 15 minutes because of its novelty."
Cow Urine Cola May Not Live Up to Claims
Pasteurization may also be necessary, he said.
One thing the cola does have going for it: cost.
"It won't be possible to make any guess or give you a rough idea about the price, but it will be cheap," said Prakash.
Dan Childs contributed to this report.