Diet Soda Dangers
By Dr. Mercola
Venezuela Bans Coke
The Venezuelan government has ordered Coca-Cola to withdraw its Coke Zero beverage from the South American nation, citing unspecified dangers to health.
The decision follows a period of increased scrutiny of businesses in South America's top oil exporter. Health Minister Jesus Mantilla said the zero-calorie Coke Zero should no longer be sold and stocks of the drink removed from store shelves.
"The product should be withdrawn from circulation to preserve the health of Venezuelans," the minister said in comments reported by the government's news agency. Coke Zero contains artificial sweeteners.
Sources: Reuters AlertNet June 10, 2009
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
When the Venezuelan government first banned Coke Zero, a zero-calorie soda made with artificial sweeteners, they cited "unspecified health dangers."
A couple of days later, The Huffington Post reported:
"Venezuela's Health Ministry said it banned sales of Coca-Cola Zero because the company failed to declare that the no-calorie soft drink uses an artificial sweetener allegedly harmful to health."
Venezuelan health officials said tests found Coke Zero contains sodium cyclamate, an artificial sweetener that has been banned in the United States since 1969 because of concerns it may cause cancer and male reproductive problems.
Although cyclamate is not banned in Venezuela (and is legal in more than 50 countries), the health ministry said Coke Zero did not list it as an ingredient and stated Coca-Cola is "failing to comply with sanitary norms."
Coca-Cola, meanwhile, denied that Coke Zero sold in Venezuela contained cyclamate, and said it actually contains acesulfame-K and aspartame for artificial sweeteners.
Well, regardless of which artificial sweeteners Coke Zero contains, it, along with all other diet soft drinks, will only have a negative influence on your health.
Interestingly, Cyclamates Are Relatively Nontoxic
It might surprise you to know that saccharin, with its carcinogenic reputation, and cyclamate, which is still banned in the United States, are probably among the less risky artificial sweeteners (although I still do not recommended them).
In 1937, University of Illinois graduate student Michael Sveda discovered cyclamate using a method astonishingly similar to the one used to find saccharin nearly 60 years previously. Sveda was trying to synthesize antipyretic (fever-reducing) drugs in the laboratory and laid the cigarette he was smoking down on a lab bench. When he placed it in his mouth again, he discovered the sweet taste of cyclamate from the antipyretic drugs he had on his fingers.
Cyclamate had not been the very next sweetener to be artificially created after saccharin. Dulcin, for example, was developed only a few years after saccharin by J. Berlinerbrau, and was occasionally used in the early 20th century -- until a long-term study finally done in the 1950s demonstrated that it was toxic for sustained use even at small doses.
But cyclamate was, however, the first artificial sweetener after saccharin to achieve (and aid) saccharin's widespread commercial popularity.
Cyclamate had less aftertaste than saccharin, was soluble in water, was stable when heated, was inexpensive to produce, and contained zero calories. Dupont produced the first patent for cyclamate and later sold it to Abbott Laboratories. Abbott submitted a "New Drug Application" to the FDA for cyclamate in 1950; they wanted to use it to mask the bitter taste of their new pharmaceutical products.
Both saccharin and cyclamate were introduced before the Food Additives Amendment to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which you'll read more about in chapter 5. Both were therefore automatically classified in the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) food additive category when the act was passed in 1958, meaning neither was required to be thoroughly tested using studies designed for safety analyses.
Cyclamates Used to Be Recommended for Diabetics
Cyclamate was recommended for diabetics as a tabletop sweetener. The result was the introduction of the very first powdered artificial sweetener blend -- Sweet'N Low®, manufactured by Cumberland Packing Corp.
Sweet'N Low originally was a mixture of cyclamate and saccharin in a ten-to-one ratio; the mixture masks the off-taste of each sweetener, particularly the somewhat metallic aftertaste of saccharin. In addition to being the first blend of artificial sweeteners, it was also the first artificial sweetening agent to be marketed in powdered form, imitating the appearance, texture, and taste of sugar.
It was a tremendous commercial success, and to this day, little pink packets of Sweet'N Low are a familiar sight at restaurants and coffee shops across the United States. Along with Sweet'N Low, diet drinks such as Diet Rite (Royal Crown Cola -- 1958) and Tab (Coca-Cola Co. -- 1963) were also introduced, using the same cyclamate/saccharin blend with great financial success.
Cylamates Banned in 1969
But in 1969, cyclamate was suddenly banned by the FDA. New research studies seemed to indicate that cyclamate caused cancer in laboratory mice.8 The FDA banned cyclamate right away; one part of the 1958 Food Additives Amendment, the Delaney Clause, sets a zero tolerance for any chemical found to cause cancer in animal testing. However, certain details do seem to raise questions as to whether the FDA was acting out of concern for the well-being of the public or concern for the well-being of a competing manufacturer.
It's an interesting coincidence, for example, that 1969 was also the year that G. D. Searle, the manufacturer of aspartame (NutraSweet) first applied for an FDA patent, just a few years after it had been discovered (by way of an accidental spill of chemicals onto chemist James M. Schlatter's finger, which he then licked).
The scientific study that caused the cyclamate ban did show the chemical caused bladder tumors in rats and mice -- when they were given a dosage equal to a human drinking 10 gallons per day for a year of a cyclamate-sweetened drink. Most other countries never acted on the questionable studies; cyclamate continues to be used in more than 55 countries including the British Commonwealth.
But once cyclamate was taken off the market, Abbott Labs held the burden of proof for showing that it was safe before it could be marketed again. Abbott has persistently submitted additional safety data, sent petitions, and requested hearings from the FDA in a vain effort to get cyclamate reapproved.
In 1973, Abbott submitted a petition to gain approval for cyclamates as a new food additive, which placed the FDA under tremendous scrutiny by all interested parties. The agency had to consider whether to reverse its previous decision while still assuring the public that the safety standard had been met.
The major concerns to the regulatory scientific reviewers were experiments in rats and dogs that showed cyclohexylamine, a metabolite of cyclamate, caused testicular atrophy and reduced sperm production.
Other studies showed adverse effects such as bladder tumors and cardiotoxicity. Abbott countered that they were not able to replicate the results in their own studies and therefore cyclamate was safe.
There were several rounds of scientific review and debate about incomplete data and interpretation of data. The controversy over the potential health hazards of cyclamate has continued for over 30 years. Some issues were resolved, while others remained as major scientific safety concerns. Both Abbott Laboratories and the FDA have poured significant resources into the cyclamate review process.
One major obstacle to the FDA approval of cyclamate is its relatively low Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of about 200 to 300 mg per day for the average 60 kg adult (and proportionally less for children). Based on current artificial sweetener use, approval of cyclamate for general use would result in consumers exceeding the ADI.
Therefore, if the FDA approves cyclamate, it would be sanctioning a product likely to be consumed beyond the safe conditions of use. The FDA has also argued that it has also never been demonstrated that cyclamate does not cause cancer in humans or animals, and is not a mutagen.
However, in 1985, the Cancer Assessment Committee of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition concluded that cyclamate is not a carcinogen. At the FDA's request, the National Academy of Sciences conducted a comprehensive review and also concluded that cyclamate does not cause cancer. The FDA still has not approved cyclamate.
After the ban on cyclamate went into effect, aspartame was approved by the FDA in spite of copious evidence of adverse effects -- far more, in fact, than cyclamate has ever been accused of. It seems somewhat arbitrary ... or it makes you wonder just who's really making the critical decisions at the FDA. Sweet'N Low is currently a mixture of saccharin and dextrose.
"Saccharin Has Been Determined to Cause Cancer in Laboratory Animals"
The concern over cyclamate and cancer after the 1969 studies resulted in saccharin being tested for safety for the very first time -- nearly 100 years after its introduction into the human diet. In the late 1970s, a scientist in Canada named Douglas Arnold performed a study finding that saccharin caused bladder cancer in 50 percent of the laboratory animals fed high doses of saccharin (although this has not been shown in humans).
Additional studies confirmed the increased risk of bladder tumors in animals. The Canadian government immediately outlawed saccharin. Influenced by the actions of Canada, the FDA began its own research regarding saccharin safety and proposed to likewise ban the sweetener under the terms of the anticarcinogen protections in the Delaney Clause just as they did with cyclamate.
As I mentioned earlier, the Delaney Clause sets a zero tolerance for any chemical found to cause cancer in animal testing. This was met by a great deal of public opposition, as saccharin was at that time the only artificial sweetener available for general use; cyclamate was, of course, already off the market, and aspartame had only been approved for limited usage. Congress intervened and allowed saccharin to be sold as long as the products containing it carried a warning label reading:"Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals."
The FDA rescinded their proposal to ban saccharin in 1991 due to the results of long-term studies that had been conducted on people with high saccharin use. These studies, mostly on diabetics, did demonstrate some correlation between saccharin use and cancer, but not enough for saccharin to be considered a major cancer risk factor. Moreover, in 1992, tests performed on rats showed that they had physiological differences from humans that made them more susceptible to bladder cancer from saccharin.
So in 2000, President Clinton signed into law that the cancer warnings were no longer required for saccharin products.
However, all of that should still have been irrelevant based on the Delaney Clause, which was put into place to avoid unnecessary carcinogens in the food supply. Under the law, if it causes cancer in animals, it's supposed to be banned.
Instead, Congress removed even the requirement of placing a warning label on saccharin-containing products. Apparently, the FDA's opinion is that if saccharin is not a major risk factor, but merely a risk factor, the product should be available and the public deserves no warning. Nonetheless, somewhat ironically considering its reputation, saccharin is probably the safest artificial sweetener on the market. But considering it has a bitter aftertaste, is derived from toluene, and is not a natural food, I believe even it should be avoided.
Why Diet Sodas Are Not Healthy
Many people think they are making a smart choice by choosing diet soda because they have no calories or sugar. Well, you may be surprised to learn that there are ingredients in diet soda that are, hands-down, worse for your health than sugar, so you are by no means doing yourself a favor.
Here's a breakdown of some of the worst offenders:
- Aspartame: This chemical is used as a sugar substitute in diet soda. There are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption including brain tumors, birth defects, diabetes, emotional disorders and epilepsy/seizures.
- Acesulfame-K: Another artificial sweetener, on which testing has been scant and some studies show the additive may cause cancer.
- Splenda: An artificial sweetener that may destroy up to 50 percent of your healthy intestinal bacteria, which are necessary to help maintain your body's overall balance of friendly versus unfriendly micro-organisms, and support your general health.
To learn even more information about artificial sweeteners, and why they're not safe, I encourage you to ready my book Sweet Deception. There's actually overwhelming evidence that consuming artificial sweeteners will likely wreak havoc on your body.
Ironically, the very reason many people choose to drink diet sodas, to prevent weight gain, is actually a myth. Numerous studies show artificial sweeteners may impair your appetite regulation and lead to weight gain.
For example, it's been discovered that diet soda increases your risk of metabolic syndrome and, ultimately, heart disease.
What Else is Lurking in Your Can of Soda?
The average American drinks more than 60 gallons of soft drinks each year, and whether it's diet or regular, the following ingredients are part of what you're slurping down:
- Phosphoric Acid: This is added to give soda its characteristic "bite," but it can also interfere with your body's ability to use calcium, leading to osteoporosis or softening of your teeth and bones.
- Caffeine: Caffeinated drinks cause jitters, insomnia, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, elevated blood cholesterol levels, vitamin and mineral depletion, breast lumps, birth defects, and perhaps some forms of cancer.
- Sodium Benzoate: This common preservative found in many soft drinks has been shown to cause DNA damage. It actually has the ability to switch off vital parts of your DNA, which could eventually lead to diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver and Parkinson's.
- Benzene: Benzene, a cancer-causing chemical, is able to form in beverages that contain vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and the preservatives sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate. Exposure to heat and light can trigger the formation.
While the federal limit for benzene in drinking water is 5 parts per billion (ppb), researchers have found benzene levels as high as 79 ppb in some soft drinks, and of 100 brands tested, most had at least some detectable level of benzene present.
Are You Ready to Drastically Improve Your Health?
Then toss out all of your diet soda and regular soda. If you're on a quest for health, soda simply doesn't have a place, and stopping this habit is one of the simplest and most profound ways to improve your health, just like that.
Now, if you struggle with an addiction to soda I strongly recommend you consider Turbo Tapping as a simple yet highly effective tool to help you stop this health-sucking habit. Turbo Tapping is a clever use of the Meridian Tapping Technique, designed to resolve many aspects of an issue in a concentrated period of time.
What should you replace the soda with? Pure water is an excellent choice, but if you're longing for a carbonated beverage, try sparkling mineral water with a squirt of fresh lemon or lime juice.