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In The News: Soda

Today’s alarming headline arrives courtesy of the journal Circulation, which published a study concluding that all sodas (yes, including the diet varieties) appear to increase risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.

“Adults who drink one or more sodas a day had about a 50 percent higher risk of metabolic syndrome – a cluster of risk factors such as excessive fat around the wait, low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other symptoms.”

Is soda the new trans fat? Not quite – I don’t foresee a ban anytime soon (nor would I condone one).

While I would never recommend that a non soda-drinker start gulping down these sugary/aspartame concoctions, I also would not tell someone who enjoys the occasional fizzy sweet drink to give it up entirely.

The real issue here, I believe, is what is being eaten in conjunction with these beverages.

Think about it. What do the overwhelming majority of people tend to eat alongside regular or diet soda? Potato chips, French fries, hamburgers, pepperoni pizza, buttery popcorn, tortilla chips with cheese dip, hot dogs, candy, etc.

I’ve rarely seen someone accompany a fruit salad, a bowl of oatmeal, or a yogurt parfait with an ice cold Coke.

It’s very possible that what this study simply reveals – not too shockingly — is the effect junk food has on our bodies.



  1. Rich Murray said on July 25th, 2007

    recent research and news re aspartame and stevia: Murray 2007.07.24

    “Of course, everyone chooses, as a natural priority,
    to actively find, quickly share, and positively act
    upon the facts about healthy and safe food, drink,
    and environment.”

    Rich Murray, MA Room For All
    505-501-2298 1943 Otowi Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505
    group with 78 members, 1,455 posts in a public,
    searchable archive
    Aspartame Controversy, in Wikipedia democratic
    encyclopedia, 72 references (including AspartameNM # 864
    and 1173 by Murray, brief fair summary of much more research:
    Murray 2007.01.01
    Souring on fake sugar (aspartame), Jennifer Couzin,
    Science 2007.07.06: 4 page letter to FDA from 12 eminent
    USA toxicologists re two Ramazzini Foundation
    cancer studies 2007.06.25: Murray 2007.07.18
    Artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose) and coloring
    agents will be banned from use in newly-born and baby foods,
    the European Parliament decided: Latvia ban in schools 2006:
    Murray 2007.07.12
    stevia to be approved and cyclamates limited by
    Food Standards Australia New Zealand:
    JMC Geuns critiques of two recent stevia studies by Nunes:
    Murray 2007.05.29
    more from The Independent, UK, Martin Hickman, re ASDA
    (unit of Wal-Mart Stores) and Marks & Spencer ban of
    aspartame, MSG, artificial chemical additives and dyes
    to prevent ADHD in kids: urray 2007.05.16
    ASDA (unit of Wal-Mart Stores WMT.N) and Marks & Spencer
    will join Tesco and also Sainsbury to ban and limit
    aspartame, MSG, artificial flavors dyes preservatives additives,
    trans fats, salt “nasties” to protect kids from ADHD:
    leading UK media: Murray 2007.05.15
    Coca-Cola and Cargill Inc., after years of development,
    with 24 patents, will soon sell rebiana (stevia)
    in drinks and foods: Murray 2007.05.31
    50% UK baby food is now organic – aspartame or MSG
    with food dyes harm nerve cells, CV Howard 3 year study
    funded by Lizzy Vann, CEO, Organix Brands,
    Children’s Food Advisory Service: Murray 2006.01.13
    combining aspartame and quinoline yellow, or MSG and
    brilliant blue, harms nerve cells, eminent
    C. Vyvyan Howard et al, 2005,
    Felicity Lawrence: Murray 2005.12.21
    formaldehyde as a potent unexamined cofactor in cancer research –
    sources include methanol, dark wines and liquors,
    aspartame, wood and tobacco smoke: IARC Monographs on the Evaluation
    of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans implicate formaldehyde
    in #88 and alcohol drinks in #96: some related abstracts:
    Murray 2007.05.15
    methanol products (formaldehyde and formic acid)
    are main cause of alcohol hangover symptoms
    [same as from similar amounts of methanol, the 11% part of aspartame]:
    YS Woo et al, 2005 Dec: Murray 2006.01.20
    methanol (formaldehyde, formic acid) disposition:
    Bouchard M et al, full plain text, 2001: substantial sources
    are degradation of fruit pectins, liquors, aspartame, smoke:
    Murray 2005.04.02
    FEMA slow to safety test Katrina toxic trailers,
    Charles Babington, Associated Press — 1 ppm formaldehyde in air
    is about half the daily dose from 3 cans aspartame diet soda
    and ten times the 1999 EPA alarm level for drinking water:
    Murray 2007.07.23
    second study by expert Greek team of neurotoxicity
    in infant rats by aspartame (or its parts, methanol,
    phenylalanine, aspartic acid), KH Schulpis et al,
    Toxicology 2007.05.18: Murray 2007.07.04
    expert Greek group finds aspartame (or its parts,
    methanol, phenylalanine, aspartic acid) harm infant rat
    brain enzyme activity, KH Schulpis et al,
    Pharmacol. Res. 2007.05.13: Murray 2007.06.23
    effect of aspartame on oncogene and suppressor gene
    expressions in mice, Katalin Gambos, Istvan Ember, et al,
    University of Pecs, Hungary, In Vivo 2007 Jan;
    scores of their relevant past studies since 1977: Murray 2007.04.14
    aspartame rat brain toxicity re cytochrome P450 enzymes,
    especially CYP2E1, Vences-Mejia A, Espinosa-Aguirre JJ et al,
    2006 Aug, Hum Exp Toxicol: relevant abstracts re formaldehyde
    from methanol in alcohol drinks: Murray 2006.09.29
    aspartame groups and books:
    updated research review of 2004.07.16: Murray 2006.05.11

    Dark wines and liquors, as well as aspartame,
    provide similar levels of methanol,
    above 120 mg daily, for long-term heavy users,
    2 L daily, about 6 cans.

    Within hours, methanol is inevitably largely turned into formaldehyde,
    and thence largely into formic acid — the major causes
    of the dreaded symptoms of “next morning” hangover.

    Fully 11% of aspartame is methanol — 1,120 mg aspartame
    in 2 L diet soda,
    almost six 12-oz cans, gives 123 mg methanol (wood alcohol).
    If 30% of the methanol is turned into formaldehyde,
    the amount of formaldehyde, 37 mg, is 18.5 times the
    USA EPA limit for daily formaldehyde in drinking water,
    2.0 mg in 2 L average daily drinking water.

  2. Jody said on July 30th, 2007

    Given the observational nature of the present study, we cannot infer that
    the observed associations are causal. As noted above, it is conceivable that residual confounding by lifestyle/dietary
    factors not adjusted for may have contributed to the metabolic
    risks associated with soft drink intake.

    That’s not much of a study.

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