The Daily Mail yet again fearlessly exposes another health risk. Not.
They’ve reprinted a meme going around the Intertubes authored by the self-styled ‘Renegade Pharmacist‘ and taken it to a whole new level of Utter, Utter Bollocks (µ²B). Which really is quite a feat given the meme is such complete horseshit in the first place.
I’m very glad the Retrograde Pharmacist is not my pharmacist – he clearly slept through all his biochemistry classes and is unable to understand basic science or critically evaluate data. The Mail claims:
Revealed: How a can of DIET Coke makes your body store fat, rots teeth and affects you in the same way as cocaine within ONE HOUR
Let’s take a look at the claims and give them a bit of recto-rigour.
The Fail quotes someone from a woo supplement vendor who compounds the Retarded Pharmacist’s nonsense by adding:
Does it buggery. I’ve written about aspartame a number of times before and this is just more Utter, Utter Bollocks (µ²B) on the same theme. Some of the above might be plausible were aspartame to trigger insulin release but it doesn’t.
An FMRI study in 2005 showed when you drink aspartame you might think you are tasting sugar – but the hypothalamus (which controls lots of stuff including hunger) does not light up in the same way it does when you are drinking sugar.
Quite simply, your taste buds say ‘sugar’ but the relevant part of the brain doesn’t recognise it as such – so aspartame doesn’t trigger the insulin response claimed.
Now let’s look at phosphoric acid. Yes, it’s an acid which will erode enamel – but at the concentration in a drink it will only have an effect only if you swish it around for days. The pH of diet coke is 3.39 – about the same as apples, apricots, cherries, mangoes – you get the picture.
The real damage to teeth comes from sugar in beverages, of which diet coke has none. Sugars in sodas send Our Microbial Overlords into ecstasy and they show their appreciation by pissing acid all over your teeth.
So Claim 1 is Utter, Utter Bollocks (µ²B), then. Let’s look at Claim 2.
Well, that’s Utter, Utter Bollocks (µ²B) as well, not least because it because it doesn’t trigger the insulin response. There are data supporting links between sugared beverages and the above diseases but Diet Coke doesn’t contain sugar.
Even if it did the study quoted shows an association between aspartame and obesity, not causation. It suggested that obese people will switch to diet drinks, and the obese are indeed more susceptible to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease – and this is a great example of correlation not being causation. I’ve written about this before.
Oh dear… Let’s continue.
First let’s get this into proportion. There are 42mg of caffeine in a can of diet coke, 100mg in a single espresso.
OK, caffeine and cocaine are both addicting, both work on the dopamine pathway but the similarities end there. Cocaine works on the brain in an entirely different way to caffeine: it ties up the dopamine transporter, a protein that dopaminergic cells use to retrieve dopamine molecules from their surroundings – the resulting dopamine backup causes the sort of euphoria that can cause people to do incredibly desperate and destructive things for their next fix, no matter what their background or socioeconomic status.
Comparing it with caffeine in a diet soda is sensationalist bullshit that trivialises a serious issue – and one that continues to destroy lives.
In the commentary this nonsense is further compounded by:
Aspartame is metabolised in the small intestine into aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol. It doesn’t get into your brain.
And ‘excitotoxins’? Must be bad, huh? These are excitatory neurotoxins and as we all know, when it comes to toxins the dose maketh the poison. The post even gets the data wrong: the study cited backing up this claim relates to glutamate, not aspartate. Different molecule, dickhead.
On to claim 4:
More Utter, Utter Bollocks (µ²B). ‘Can deplete nutrients’ – do they mean the electrolyte content of the blood is diluted, resulting in low blood sodium levels (hyponatremia)? If they do (which they probably don’t as I don’t think they have a Scooby what they’re on about) how can it simultaneously dehydrate you? And for it to dehydrate you it would need to be so hypertonic as to be undrinkable.
Is this like another Daily Mail favourite, Schrodinger’s Immigrant? You know, the one that’s simultaneously stealing out jobs while lounging at home scrounging benefits?
Am I saying Diet Coke is fundamental to a healthful diet? No. If consumed to excess I’m sure – like anything else – it won’t be good for you somehow. The dose maketh the poison. But were it to have any of the effects described above it would have been banned. And it hasn’t.
So, once again the Fail prints sensationalist bullshit that they can’t be arsed doing the most basic fact checking on. Fearless reporting or wicked scaremongering designed to frighten the public and sell newspapers? You decide.