This will put you off your fizzy cola.
A recent toxicology study into aspartame (which is used to artificially sweeten diet colas) linked the sugar substitute to an increase in tumours in rats.
The Ramazzini Foundation found a "significant increase in lymphomas and leukemia, and that the increase comes not from consuming 800 cans of soda a day, but from consuming fairly moderate amounts of aspartame in these animals' lifetimes.
"They had 1,800 animals, and some of them were just consuming the equivalent of two cans of soda a day, two yogurts, 10 pieces of chewing gum. And at that level of consumption, there was a significant increase in cancer, and it only showed up in older rats.”
So says epidemiologist Devra Davis, who runs the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. She was being interviewed in Salon about her book, The Secret History of the War on Cancer.
She made another interesting point about how some of "the companies jumping on the breast cancer awareness bandwagon actually make products that may contribute to the disease". I've always been curious about this point because, from the times I've had to sub-edit stories on toxic chemicals, it's made me wonder about all that weird-sounding multi-syllabic stuff that's on the ingredients list of your personal care and cleaning products (what IS some of that stuff??), and the debate about parabens - which is in everything from shampoo to toothpaste - is an interesting and kinda scary one. Now, I find it really intriguing that everyone is so literate about what is in their food (whether it's got Omega-3 or saturated fat in it, if it covers your RDI for iron etc) but when you look at what's in your deodorant or make-up, there are words that are so incomprehensible and lengthy you wouldn't know what they were, or what they do (though they do come in handy for killer Scrabble moves). Mmm, just the kinda stuff I want my body to be absorbing in cumulative amounts through my lifetime, yay!
Back on the soft drink front though, I emailed the aspartame info to Will, who likes to guzzle a certain brand of artificially sweetened cola.
I pointed out in comparison, having tons of sugar seems real tame in comparison to what replaces them in fake-sweet colas.
He wrote back: "Sugar is lightweight. Especially fructose, that's the most pissweak sugar around. The other sweeteners surround it in the school yard and take its lunch money."