Diet soda was created in 1952 by Kirsch Bottling in Brooklyn, NY, in the form of a sugar free ginger ale called “No Cal”. Diet Soda was originally created for people who had health problems like diabetes and contained sugar substitutes. Diet Rite was developed by the RC cola company in 1958, followed by Dr. Pepper in 1962, and Coca Cola in 1963. These companies originally used sweeteners like cyclamates and saccharin; however, cyclamates were banned by the FDA in 1970 because they found evidence the chemical caused cancer in lab rats. In 1982 Aspartame became the primary sugar substitute used in diet sodas. Since its approval, many consumer advocates have tried to link its usage of aspartame to seizures, headaches, and even cancer. So with all of the ingredients that go into diet soda, is it a safe alternative to its sugary sibling? I decided to do some research to separate known facts from fiction and try to come to a conclusion on a still unknown and speculative topic.
Does the artificial sweetener aspartame, cause cancer?
According to data, aspartame has been one of the most studied food additives ever tested by the FDA, with countless years of research; they have found no link to aspartame and health problems with the acceptable daily intake of 50 mgs per kilogram of bodyweight. Just to put into perspective what the daily recommended intake is for artificial sweeteners, you would have to drink 21, 12 oz sodas to surpass the FDA’s daily recommended limit. The FDA and 90 other countries, have approved that aspartame is safe for consumption with no proven link to cancer in any trials.
Diet Soda actually can trigger weight gain instead of weight loss!
Researches from the University of Texas did a study and found that people who consumed one diet soda drink a day had a 70% greater waist circumference than those who did not drink diet soda daily. For those people who drank two or more diet sodas, their waist circumference increased by 500%. From what studies and research have shown, the main reason for the weight gain is that the mind perceives that you are taking in sugar and is expecting the calories. In reality, your body is confused when it doesn’t receive the calories and continues to crave more and more. However, you can effectively avoid weight gain by planning out your diet in advance to substitute fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Can the Dye that makes the soda caramel colored cause you to die?
Possibly, the dye, 4-methylimidazole, usually known as 4-MI and sometimes 4-MEI, has been shown to possibly cause cancer in studies done on unfortunate lab rats. However, the trace amounts in the soda is very, very minimal, and the FDA and the ABA (America Beverage Association, have thrashed the comments that this causes cancer. The ABA stated, “”leading public health organizations have reaffirmed that caramel coloring, including the trace amounts of 4-MEI found in it, is safe for use in colas and countless other foods.” According to an article a Vanderbilt biochemist told the Time’s that 4-MI would only increase a person’s risk for cancer if they drank 1000 cans a day. California has listed 4-MI as a carcinogen and soda companies that use it will have to produce a warning label.
As with anything in life, moderation is the key. Diet soda does contain chemicals and different substances that, in large amounts, can be harmful. After years of consumption, maybe it could possibly cause cancer or other health issues. Many of the other items we consume on a daily basis contain dyes, chemicals, preservatives, so singling out diet soda might not be fair. If you are concerned about the chemicals, stick to water, and research local farmers markets or organic food sources. Until then, I will drink a diet soda from time to time to avoid the 30+ grams of sugar in a regular soda