Is diet soda/artificial sweeteners bad for you?

Frisco

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 24, 2002
2,475
69
Utopia
I love soda/Coke, but I was trying to lose weight so a few months ago I switched to Diet Coke. My friend told me Diet Coke is terrible for your body, so I Googled it and I came across all kinds of crazy stuff, like it causes brain cancer and is converted into Wood Alcohol (Methanol) in the liver. That is unbelievable if true. Isn't wood alcohol a poison? I was also trying to avoid alcohol on my diet, but I guess I have been inadvertently putting it in my body with diet coke.

Anyone know the facts?
 

Zeke

macrumors 6502a
Oct 5, 2002
507
1
Greenville, SC
I go by the belief that everything taken in excess can cause cancer. So, moderate.

Honestly, there are all sorts of theories about everything causing cancer. If it's proven, you can be sure it won't be in drinks anymore. However, these synthetic chemicals that they use as sweeteners generally trick the body by almost being a sugar, but aren't digestable because they've got a slightly different element somewhere. Who knows what they actually do to your body but I'm one who believes there's no reason to use them as it's just not worth the risk.
 

iMeowbot

macrumors G3
Aug 30, 2003
8,634
0
If you're worried about the aspartame health scare, there is now a version of Diet Coke with sucralose, which is subject to an entirely different health scare, in turn, are wholly separate from the refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup scares.

In fact, most beverages, diet or not, contain significant amounts of the deadly chemical DHMO. Abstinence from drinking may be the safest course.
 

spicyapple

macrumors 68000
Jul 20, 2006
1,724
0
Who really knows? If history is a guide, I'd put my money on artificial sweeteners being a bad thing.

In the 19th century, upper class women would drink arsenic mixed with vinegar or rub arsenic on their skin to give themselves a fairer complexion.
 

scem0

macrumors 604
Jul 16, 2002
7,028
1
back in NYC!
Frisco said:
Anyone know the facts?
Sadly, no. There's research on Aspartame that points to brain cancer, brain tumors, and chemical imbalances, and there's studies that say the opposite.

iMeowbot said:
Abstinence from drinking may be the safest course.
I agree, but only abstain from drinking soda, abstaining from drinking water will cause very serious health issues ;).

e
 

true777

macrumors 6502a
Dec 30, 2000
659
1
California, Austria, Arkansas
In general, you absolutley want to stay away from saccharin-based sweeteners which have been shown to cause cancer in animals (they often come in the pink sachets, e.g. at Starbucks). Nutrasweet (Aspartame; blue sachet) and Splenda (Sucralose; yellow sachet) based products are safe as far as I know (unless you have Phenylketonuria, a rare genetic disorder). However, they are only as safe as other artificial food additives (e.g., artificial colors, flavors, preservatives). That is, they are always not as good for your body as an all-natural diet would be.

I believe it's ok to use Nutrasweet and Splenda based sweeteners and diet soda products if you don't use them to excess (that is, make sure to also drink water and not just these sodas).

If you want to be absolutely safe, you should sweeten your coffee, tea, and desserts with Stevia, a calorie-free, sweet extract that's made from the Stevia leaf and is 100% natural. Stevia is available at health food stores. It's not cheap but will last you forever. In Japan, some diet sodas are actually sweetened with Stevia (e.g., Pocari Stevia), which would basically be the way to go.
 

Tanglewood

macrumors 6502a
Jun 7, 2006
942
2
San Diego, CA
The sweetener in question is aspartame which some say cause health problems.

Though some diet drinks are instead using splenda as a sweetener (diet coke included)

"In 2005, under pressure from retailer Wal-Mart (which was impressed with the popularity of Splenda sweetener), and despite their previous blunder with New Coke, the company released a new formulation called "Diet Coke sweetened with Splenda". Sucralose replaces aspartame in this version. Early sales reports for this version were not quite as strong as anticipated; however, Coca-Cola did little advertising for the brand, investing money and advertising in Coca-Cola Zero instead. The introduction of the Splenda sweetened version of Diet Coke saw complaints to bottlers, as store shelves would often go with very little of the normal version of Diet Coke."-Wikipedia

Just look for this


*edit* Beaten to the punch...
 

bartelby

macrumors Core
Jun 16, 2004
19,795
33
No-one has been subjected to artifical stuff for long enough to know long term effects. I avoid Aspartame and it's relatives as much as I can.
 

bearbo

macrumors 68000
Jul 20, 2006
1,858
0
iMeowbot said:
In fact, most beverages, diet or not, contain significant amounts of the deadly chemical DHMO. Abstinence from drinking may be the safest course.
seriously, this kind of sarcasm should stop... for those who have no idea what DHMO is, this could really sound scary
 

iMeowbot

macrumors G3
Aug 30, 2003
8,634
0
scem0 said:
I agree, but only abstain from drinking soda, abstaining from drinking water will cause very serious health issues ;).
Studies have consistently shown that this is exactly where the highest levels of DHMO contamination are found. I'd rather drink mercury! :eek:
 

garfield2002

macrumors regular
Oct 31, 2003
120
0
As a molecular biologist researcher I can tell you that the list of carcinogenic compounds both natural and artifical is staggering. :eek: Almost everything that we ingest (eat or drink) or even the air we breathe contains some level of carcinogens. The real questions that eludes scientists is why, under essentially the same environmental conditions, some people get cancer and others do not.

As for artifical sweeteners, some are not very different from natural sweeteners they differ in that they cannot be processed by the body for energy (calories). Adverse reactions to compounds such as artificial sweeteners are not uncommon. Any person can have a physical allergic reaction to substance, peanuts for example. A popular misconception is that artificial sweeteners are bad because they "trick" the brain into tasting sweetness. In fact all sweeteners both natural and artifical trick the brain into tasting sweet, sweet is just our perception of what a particular compounds tastes like. Anti-freeze apparantly tastes sweet, but it is terribly toxic.

In short a diet soda is probably no worse for your body than the burger and fries that are served with it. I strongly agree with a previous poster that moderation is usually the best tactic. :)
 

spicyapple

macrumors 68000
Jul 20, 2006
1,724
0
bearbo said:
seriously, this kind of sarcasm should stop... for those who have no idea what DHMO is, this could really sound scary
The adjective, deadly, kind of placed it over the top. -10 points for bad use of sarcasm!
 

gelbin

macrumors regular
Jan 18, 2002
146
0
Aspartame (nutra sweet)

Yes, there are health issues concerning nutra sweet. It converts to methanol and formaldehyde, methanol is a neurotoxin and formaldehyde is a carcinogen. Not good stuff, and I would recommend avoiding it. I would also recommend avoiding anyone that talks about DHMO as they clearly are being smartass and have no real respect for the reality behind toxic exposures.

Splenda is a chlorinated sugar alcohol. It is an organic compound with three chlorine atoms. I would only enjoy that at your own risk as well. There was little-to-no testing done on it. We know that many chlorinated organics are bad, whether directly or indirectly as chemical metabolites.
 

gadgetgirl85

macrumors 68040
Mar 24, 2006
3,578
97
I say if you are going to drink coke just drink the real stuff! But drink it very occasionally :) Thats my theory if you are going to have something junky just have the 'real' version of it
 

iMeowbot

macrumors G3
Aug 30, 2003
8,634
0
gelbin said:
Yes, there are health issues concerning nutra sweet. It converts to methanol and formaldehyde, methanol is a neurotoxin and formaldehyde is a carcinogen. Not good stuff, and I would recommend avoiding it.
And that would be really scary if our bodies didn't routinely produce these anyway. These are hardly unique to aspartame!

I would also recommend avoiding anyone that talks about DHMO as they clearly are being smartass and have no real respect for the reality behind toxic exposures.
I would most certainly recommend avoiding anyone who talks about these sweeteners as deadly chemicals is clearly a scare-mongerer and to be ignored at all costs. The reality is that they are all about as dangerous as that water, it's all about consuming reasonable amounts of things.

Splenda is a chlorinated sugar alcohol. It is an organic compound with three chlorine atoms. I would only enjoy that at your own risk as well. There was little-to-no testing done on it. We know that many chlorinated organics are bad, whether directly or indirectly as chemical metabolites.
See, this is flat out disinformation and precisely what I was getting at. Sucralose most certainly did go through human trials. The "no clinical trials on the final product" scare is based on the notion that it's somehow going to be a fundamentally different product when they stuff it into envelopes.
 

bousozoku

Moderator emeritus
Jun 25, 2002
14,132
167
Lard
Beyond the Saccharin cancer scare of the 1970s, I haven't seen a lot of hype about artificial sweeteners, though there was a poisoning scare a while back.

Aspartame, which is used in a lot of products, supposedly causes memory loss, with fairly casual contact.

In any case, soda with sugar combined with a balanced diet is much better than betting everything on diet soda.
 

jknight8907

macrumors 6502a
Jun 14, 2004
803
42
Hudson Valley NY
The only things I've heard are increased chance of migranes and higher susceptibility to spatial disorientation (it's an aviation thing...)

I'm not convinced it's bad but because of the chance of those, I stay away from it.
 

pseudobrit

macrumors 68040
Jul 23, 2002
3,417
4
Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
true777 said:
In general, you absolutley want to stay away from saccharin-based sweeteners which have been shown to cause cancer in animals
That's ********. Overwatering rats causes them to get cancer. Some testing in the 50s with rats showed artificial sweeteners, when given to rats via an intravenous overdose of water, caused cancer. Amazing.

Artificial sweeteners have been on the market for 30 years. Brain cancer rates have gone down.

Urban legends die hard though, so I fully expect to be told I'm full of ****.
 

Maxx Power

macrumors 6502a
Apr 29, 2003
861
333
garfield2002 said:
As a molecular biologist researcher I can tell you that the list of carcinogenic compounds both natural and artifical is staggering. :eek: Almost everything that we ingest (eat or drink) or even the air we breathe contains some level of carcinogens. The real questions that eludes scientists is why, under essentially the same environmental conditions, some people get cancer and others do not.

As for artifical sweeteners, some are not very different from natural sweeteners they differ in that they cannot be processed by the body for energy (calories). Adverse reactions to compounds such as artificial sweeteners are not uncommon. Any person can have a physical allergic reaction to substance, peanuts for example. A popular misconception is that artificial sweeteners are bad because they "trick" the brain into tasting sweetness. In fact all sweeteners both natural and artifical trick the brain into tasting sweet, sweet is just our perception of what a particular compounds tastes like. Anti-freeze apparantly tastes sweet, but it is terribly toxic.

In short a diet soda is probably no worse for your body than the burger and fries that are served with it. I strongly agree with a previous poster that moderation is usually the best tactic. :)
For a person to get cancer, a bunch of thresholds have to be broken (if you look at, for example the ability to form the first unstable cell, the immune response, etc), if you look at it from a modelling perspective, and many, if not all of these steps of bifurcations exhibit some or strong hysteresis (meaning that if you just tip over the edge of some threshold by an amount, something catastrophic happens that take more to go back to the initial condition than the small amount that sent you over), and finally everyone has a slightly different set of parameters (genetic predisposition, current state of health, age, previous contact of carcinogens) and a different set of noise (luck), the entire health system subjected to carcinogens is then fairly stochastic, deterministically random. With no clear barriers that can be defined for all people in general, due to a lot of resetting parameters and individuallity and the high sensitivity of starting conditions.

This has really been a problem for traditional medicine and the entire medical science community because the amount of research and scientific work put into various problems in that area in the traditional way increases disproportionately large for a small increase in the complexity of the problem. In essence, traditional medicine and medical science is quite flawed if it seeks to cure and understand from a generalized point of view averaging all humans as a target. Some new problems, like cancer, is so sensitive to individuality in a person that most attempts to generalize it has been failures, except to say "if you contact carcinogens, you'll probably get cancer" and "everything causes cancer", the popular attitudes toward this topic.
 
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