February 8th, 2013

I can’t stand them, but…

…diet drinks are more inclined to lead to diabetes???

My goodness!

Counter-intuitive fact of the day.

19 Responses to “I can’t stand them, but…”

  1. Dennis Says:

    At the bottom of the article referenced: “The study’s authors cautioned that more research was needed in order to prove a true causal link between diet sodas and Type 2 diabetes. “Information on beverage consumption was not updated during the follow-up, and dietary habits may have changed over time,” they admitted in their report. “We cannot rule out that factors other than ASB [artificially sweetened beverages” are responsible for the association with diabetes.”

    The old correlation is not causation conundrum?

  2. Tesh Says:

    Or standard scientific disclaimer.

    …I’m just cynical enough to think that means “more research grant money”, but realistic enough about science to know that causation is *really* hard to pin down. Way too many factors in play.

  3. parker Says:

    Many years ago, when I worked at a nuclear power plant, 2 co-workers and I did a little ‘research’ (as a prank) and proved through correlation that the sale of ping pong balls within a 100 mile radius of the plant effected infant mortality rates. More ping pong balls sold, the lower the infant mortality rate. Buy ping pong balls and save the children.

  4. Kevin Says:

    As a pharmaceutical researcher I can tell you that you need to take these studies with a grain of salt. These studies reveal associations not cause. People who consume diet beverages tend to be overweight which is a know risk factor for type 2 diabetes. This is also a very low risk increase. In epidemiological studies a 33% increase is not very large. Lot for a 3-4 fold (300-400% increase) before you get concerned.

  5. neo-neocon Says:

    Of course correlation is hardly causation. But there are interesting details in the article that indicate there may be some causation operating, too in this case, although we don’t know. I refer, for example, to points such as the following:

    Women who drank up to 500 milliliters (about 12 ounces) of artificially sweetened beverages per week were 33 percent more likely to develop the disease, and women who drank about 600 milliliters (about 20 ounces) per week had a 66 percent increase in risk.

    Drinking sweetened beverages increases the risk of becoming overweight, which is itself a risk factor in developing diabetes. But the study didn’t find that the results were the same even among overweight women. ..

    “With respect, in particular, to ‘light’ or ‘diet’ drinks, the relationship with diabetes can be explained partially by a greater craving for sugar in general by female consumers of this type of soft drink,” the researchers explained. “Furthermore, aspartame, one of the main artificial sweeteners used today, causes an increase in glycaemia and consequently a rise in the insulin level in comparison to that produced by sucrose.”

    Translation: Drinking artificially sweetened drinks makes you crave other sweet things (hello, chocolate!). And your body reacts to aspartame—also known as NutraSweet and Equal—much in the same way that it reacts to plain old sugar.

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    Kevin: well, I’m not personally concerned, because I absolutely hate artificial sweeteners and don’t even like sugary drinks. See this.

  7. Sam L. Says:

    My 12-oz soda can says 355ml. 500ml would be 16.9 oz.

  8. Ymarsakar Says:

    Essentially what diabetes has come to be, is the result where the body’s organs fail to filter its own balance mechanisms. Somehow the body, such as the muscles, can absorb and metabolize regular sugars and carbohydrates processed, but there’s something about the artificial sugars (high fructose corn syrup preservatives) that is harder to process or absorb, causing the sugar count in the blood stream to either spike or drop all too often. This is like the liver and kidney taking critical hits all the time, and after a few years, they start failing.

    Drinking a few too many sodas all the time without water to flush it out, I can literally feel my kidneys hurting. If it wasn’t for chi gong, I would worry very much about my own liver and kidneys. Although I almost never drank a single soda in my school days. It was like a once a year thing just because a soda can was around me.

    The human body was designed to process real sugar, as in the plant stuff. It was not designed to process stuff created by chemists, like meth. That’s just basic common sense. In point of fact, even if you do grow fat from sugars, that’s not a bad or evil thing, since fat is purified energy. It’s the fact that you keep eating stuff that has to be “purified” that is the problem, not the fat, which is why the liver fails all the time for those people.

  9. Ymarsakar Says:

    Now that I think about it, people who diet, and lose weight as in fat, is forcing their own liver to purify the toxins and turn it into fat, a safe energy source for the body to metabolize. They keep doing this as they drop 50 pounds, gain 50 pounds, and that’s probably going to kill them sooner or later.

    Maybe the reason why many people can’t keep up their diet is because their body would die if it didn’t reprocess the toxins (food) into fat.

  10. Occam's Beard Says:

    The old correlation is not causation conundrum

    I’d invoke my own nostrum, that all biomedical research is bullshit until proven otherwise, and by proven I mean to the satisfaction of a physical scientist, which will never happen.

    Kevin’s admonition to take this with a grain of salt is apposite. Now is salt bad, or is it now considered good? Or was that eggs? Doesn’t matter; my nostrum applies either way.

  11. parker Says:

    “Now is salt bad, or is it now considered good? Or was that eggs?”

    You neglected to mention red wine, stout, coffee, and everything under the sun.

  12. Occam's Beard Says:

    can absorb and metabolize regular sugars and carbohydrates processed

    Sugars are carbohydrates.

    Somehow the body, such as the muscles, can absorb and metabolize regular sugars and carbohydrates processed, but there’s something about the artificial sugars (high fructose corn syrup preservatives) that is harder to process or absorb, causing the sugar count in the blood stream to either spike or drop all too often.

    The human body was designed to process real sugar, as in the plant stuff. It was not designed to process stuff created by chemists, like meth. That’s just basic common sense.

    As a chemist, this sort of thing drives me crazy. Fructose is a “regular sugar,” and a “real sugar.” The etymology of its name is “fruit sugar,” and it derives from its ubiquity in fruits. It is perfectly “natural,” and in that regard rather unlike meth. Further, the monosaccharide fructose comprises half of the disaccharide sucrose (which is fructose-glucose linked by a glycosidic linkage). Sucrose breaks down into a 50:50 mixture of fructose and glucose under weakly acidic conditions (see “stomach, the”) in a process called “inversion” (measuring the rate of which being a common elementary lab experiment, btw). High fructose corn syrup is not a preservative, but rather either a 55:42 or 42:53 fructose/glucose mixture (the remainder being other carbohydrates). Note that the former has only a bit more fructose than the inversion product of sucrose (50:50), while the latter actually has less. So “high fructose” corn syrup isn’t much different from ingesting sucrose.

    And as for the body’s ability to process compounds, consider that when starved of carbohydrates, the body can metabolize proteins (i.e., poly(amino acids)) into carbohydrates such as glucose, which is the sole energy source of the brain (gluconeogeneis). Interconversion of fructose and glucose is metabolic child’s play.

  13. Occam's Beard Says:

    You neglected to mention red wine, stout, coffee, and everything under the sun.

    Interestingly, red wine is reported to reduce activation of NF kappa B, which promotes inflammation, and thus drinking red wine has been touted as a way to fight cancer.

    Unfortunately, as a constitutive hyper-rationalist (by others’ characterization), I discount that, too. Science is much too difficult for molecular biologists, poor dears, and as for M.D.s … well, they try hard, and mean well.

    Having said that, I believe that scotch promotes well-being, so if I live to be 120, you’ll know why. And think of the trouble I’ll save the embalmer!

  14. thomass Says:

    Ymarsakar Says:

    “Drinking a few too many sodas all the time without water to flush it out, I can literally feel my kidneys hurting.”

    That is another possible correlation is not causation thing. The caffeine is a diuretic. A normal person pounding sodas needs extra water since it could / should be expected they’ll pull out more water than they put in (despite being almost all water themselves). Personally; I self medicated with them when my heart failure was at a bad stage.. they kept me from retaining water / out of the hospital (one day I didn’t have any I ended up in the ER by the afternoon)…

    On the plus side I’ve largely recovered… while drinking over 2 liters of diet coke a day.

  15. holmes Says:

    Love diet drinks, but I drink them in moderation. People who drink regular soda can lose a lot of weight simply by cutting it out and replacing with diet soda. Water is still the best liquid to imbibe, of course.

  16. RigelDog Says:

    For me the key finding is that ingesting aspartame increases blood glucose. I would be interested to know the exact numbers they recorded. But the bottom line is that, as someone who was diagnosed with Type 2 last year (and who has completely normalized my blood glucose and cholesterol by eliminating most starches and sugars from my diet), a non-food substance that triggers a rise in blood glucose is to be avoided.

  17. Rick Caird Says:

    As has been mentioned above, this is really a pretty small correlation for this kind of study. Until we get around 3X the risk, it is hardly worth noting. Besides that, the confidence intervals are quite large:

    “…were at increased risk of T2D with HRs (95% CIs) of 1.34 (1.05, 1.71) and 2.21 (1.56, 3.14) for women who consumed >359 and >603 mL/wk of SSBs and ASBs, respectively. ”

    The lower bound for the >359 group was almost 1 which implies no correlation. For the > 603 group the in interval was about 50% of the range.

    This is junk science at its finest.

  18. suek Says:

    >>For me the key finding is that ingesting aspartame increases blood glucose. I would be interested to know the exact numbers they recorded.<<

    I've never seen this info made available. You'd think it would be easy enough – so why not?

    I had an "over nine pound" baby, so was required to have blood glucose tests during following pregnancies. Drink the nasty drink, then come back for blood draws in a half hour (I think?) and then twice after an hour. Never had the diabetic response they were looking for. In fact, once the blood guy asked me if I was certain I had drunk the nasty stuff. I reminded him that he had been standing there watching me when I did. He said I didn't have the blood response I was supposed to have after the first half hour. I've always wondered what that meant.

    Not that matters these many years later!

  19. neo-neocon Says:

    suek: I believe what it meant is the following (and any doctors here can correct me if I’m wrong)–

    For that test, you are required to fast and then the level of glucose in your blood is tested to get a baseline. They you are required to drink a sweetened drink. Your blood is drawn afterward at regular intervals.

    In a diabetic, the level of glucose in the fasting blood would already be higher than normal. Then it would go even higher after the drink, and slowly fall over time. But in a person with impaired glucose tolerance short of diabetes (which I believe they were testing you for), the fasting glucose level would be normal or high normal, but the level after drinking the drink would go up higher than in a normal person, and also perhaps come down more slowly.

    In a normal person, the level would go up after the drink, but not as high, and it would probably come down to previous levels faster.

    My guess is that what he was saying was that your level hardly went up at all for some reason—not only not to the diabetic or pre-diabetic levels, but not even as high as most normal people.

    Just a guess.

    For example, I once was given a test for lactose intolerance that involved a very similar thing only I was given a drink made of lactose (milk sugar). My levels never changed at all during the many hours of the test, meaning I have 0% ability to digest milk sugar.

    I also got awful GI problems from the test, for that same reason.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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