Cans of Pepsi and Coke lined the shelves of my family fridge growing up, until sometime in the mid-90s when my parents switched to Fresca, Waist Watcher Diet Black Cherry, and of course the classic Diet Pepsi (yes, we were a Diet Pepsi household; yes, I’m ashamed). Well, it turns out that we may as well have just kept chugging the soda with the sugar, because according to a new study, even drinking artificially-sweetened sugar-free soda is linked to a higher risk of death.
The study, which comes from the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at the drinking habits of 452,000 people in 10 different countries.
In general, people who drink two glasses or more of soft drinks a day were more likely to die, regardless of the sugar content. However, the cause of death differed between sugar-free and sugared soda drinkers (people who drank less than one glass of soft drink per month were, apparently, fine).
Though who drank sodas containing sugar were more likely to die of “digestive-disease” deaths, which includes fun ailments like diseases of the liver, pancreas, appendix, and intestines, while those who chose sugar-free drinks were more likely to die from circulatory diseases like ischemic heart disease, aka coronary artery disease.
In general drinking soda, with or without sugar, had a correlation with Parkinson’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Thankfully, the study mentioned nothing about seltzer, which we have to pray is not secretly trying to kill us.
The study also doesn’t necessarily say that it’s the soda itself that’s causing deaths. It could simply be a correlation, meaning that people who drink soda more frequently may have other lifestyle factors that contribute to their overall health, but the study didn’t look into a further analysis of diet, exercise, income, gender, race, healthcare access, or other factors.
If you do find yourself reaching for a soda more than once or twice a month, it might be time to quit. Need some inspiration? Here are a few ways you can try to make plain old water taste good enough to chug.
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