Skip to comments.Diet Soda Linked to Depression in NIH Study
Posted on 01/10/2013 6:17:03 PM PST by null and void
Coffee tied to a decrease in depression cases
NIH study finds that diet soda drinkers are more likely to be down in the dumps than regular soda drinkers, and that coffee drinkers are happier than both. More research is needed to confirm the findings.
Millions of people reach for an afternoon diet soda as a pick-me-up to make it through the rest of the day. But new research suggests sodas and other sugary drinks especially artificially sweetened ones could be related to depression.
According to the research, which will be officially released at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in mid-March, people who drink four cans or more of soda daily are about 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression than people who don't drink soda. Coffee drinkers are about 10 percent less likely to develop depression than people who don't drink coffee.
The National Institutes of Health study included more than 250,000 people between the ages of 50 and 71 and studied their drink consumption during 1995 and 1996. A decade later, researchers asked whether participants had been diagnosed with depression since the year 2000.
According to researchers, "the risk appeared to be greater for people who drank diet [rather] than regular soda."
"Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk," Honglei Chen, who led the study, said in a statement. "More research is needed to confirm these findings, and people with depression should continue to take depression medications prescribed by their doctors.
Irritatingly enough SSRIs do.
Some people go bananas when they hear this, some even go grilled chicken with red whine...
I see the snark is strong within you. Since you've decided from your experience that aspartame causes depression, let's take a very simple example that will challenge your feelings.
Aspartame has three components: phenylalanine (the most common amino acid), aspartic acid (another amino acid), and methanol.
A 12 oz. Diet Coke contains the following:
The average banana contains 60 mg. of phenylalanine, 146 mg. of aspartic acid, and 21 mg. of methanol
So, combining your experience with simple math and basic reasoning, we can conclude that bananas do, in fact, cause depression.
How about a better example?
A 3 oz. piece of grilled chicken, eaten with a cup of tomato juice, contains the following:
So, a small piece of grilled chicken with just a cup of tomato juice will give you almost 12 times more phenylalanine than the amount of aspartame found in a can of Diet Coke; 33 times more aspartic acid, and more than 4 times the amount of methanol.
There better be a closet full of Prozac in your house should you ever get so brave as to take on 3 ounces of chicken with a glass of tomato juice. Either that, or put yourself on suicide watch.
I know your feelings, er, I mean, experience, causes you to believe this sweetener causes depression. Aspartame is blamed for all sorts of afflictions, but when you bother to consider some very simple science, It's all pretty silly, really.
This kind of "study" is probably the weakest kind of research there is, yet studies like this get published all the time. It is what I call a "correlational study." All it does is gather tons of data, and then apply statistical tests to see if any of the pieces of data can be correlated to other pieces of data.
At the p < 0.05 significance level, 1/20 of these correlations are false (of course, you don't know which one). And the remaining 19 correlations are worthless without further data. (A correlation is only meaningful if a reason for the correlation can be determined.) Correlation is not causation, yet all kinds of conclusions are made whenever a correlation is found.
Often, these "studies" are conducted by people who are very familiar with statistics (or have access to a statistician), and not at all familiar with research design or hypothesis formulation. For many MDs, it satisfies their research requirement (often required as part of their training), without actually making them do research. A correlation is the basis of a hypothesis and signals the need for more study; it is not an end result.
Okay, sorry for going off like that, but this is one of my pet peeves. I'm getting off the soapbox now...
What if you drink both? (I do)
Some people can’t tolerate aspartame, I’m one of them too, extreme gastro-intestinal (instant). Same with anything ending in -tol, malitol-sorbitol-xylitol, etc.(my dentist loves me-no sugar free gum or mints for me)
Bananas, Chicken and Tomatoes?
Everyone is different
I too think there’s something wrong with aspartame and I’m glad I can’t consume it - I used to years ago - caught up with me.
Eating out in restaurants can be ‘exciting’
It’s by no means silly.
Assuming, of course, that the ONLY metabolic breakdown products of aspartame are phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol. Assuming it NEVER breaks down in half, or quarters or 60/40. Assuming that no one could possibly have an enzyme variant that, for example, leaves an odd methyl group stuck to what was once an innocent amino acid.
And of course, I’d also have to neglect my own personal experience, the deliberate test of the hypothesis, the deliberate repeat of the experiment with the same results, and the same results happening after accidental and unknown at-the-time exposures.
Who am I gonna believe? You or my own lyin’ eyes?
You tell me.
If I drink both, I’m depressed and awake.
That’s awesome and I agree.
For awhile there I was thinking maybe we were getting a rare photo of billorites.
are those ancient egyptian hieroglyphics on his forehead?
Of course, people have managed to convince themselves that aspartame causes brain cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, and depression. So defying science for them shouldn't be much of a problem.
Research is not necessary when you can verify cause and effect for yourself. Every time I have had Aspartame in the past five years I have had a pounding headache within 2 hours. Sure a dozen or so episodes could be a coincidence, but I have enough personally collected data to convince me to avoid it.
“One could be very depressed from being overweight to start with.”
Yes, I think there are some serious problems connecting the dots here. It is like seeing a family where they are all fat, and their reasoning is that it must be genetic. No, it could also be that parents with horrible diets/lifestyles share those horrible habits with their children, and genetics have nothing to do with it. I was in a seafood restaurant down in Maryland, and almost got sick watching this fat family (including young porkers) demolish so much food in one sitting. I’m an overweight slob, but couldn’t eat as much as these pre-teen kids were eating on my hungriest day. Nothing “glandular” about their weights; they ate more in one meal than my family was going to eat all day...
(BTW, the same issues apply to urban illiteracy - parents that can’t read aren’t reading stories to their kids at night)
I find flavored Polar seltzer water to be just fine.
I don’t drink any of this other crap anymore.
If it’s all the same to you I’ll stick with the scientific method.
I had a question: Why am I suddenly depressed?
I generated a hypothesis: Some change in my life caused it.
I made a prediction: If I change it back, my depression will end.
I tested the hypothesis by systematically reestablishing my old happier life one change at a time and determining its effects on my affect.
Eliminating aspartame eliminated the deep pit of depression.
Re-introducing the aspartame restored the deep depression.
Eliminating it again reproduced the relief.
Subsequent exposures to aspartame, whether I know at the time I’ve been exposed or not, are followed by bouts of depression.
Analysis shows that every repeat of an aspartame challenge results in a repeat of the depression. Subsequent removal of aspartame eases the depression. From this I can only conclude that in my case aspartame is strongly linked to depression.
I don’t know the underlying mechanism, but the data says what the data says.
You say it doesn’t.
I’ll have to try those. Looks like they have no sweetener at all, just a bit of natural flavor.
Dang, have two cases of aspartame cola just bought yesterday.
Mase ~ Of course, people have managed to convince themselves that aspartame causes ... headaches...
See, Go_Raiders, you don't actually get headaches, you've only managed to convince yourself you get headaches!
Did it ever bother you in the past? No? Why not just enjoy it?
The other fellow commenting that cola with aspartame is basically the same as fruit juice because certain common chemicals can be found in each is committing a ‘fallacy of composition’. How they’re put together is as important or more so than the constituent chemicals.
No, null and void's personal experience is in line with with the findings of the NIH study. This article has a bit more detail:
"Consistently, constituent-based analyses showed higher depression risk with aspartame intake (ORs between extreme quintiles: 1.36; 95% CI 1.29-1.44) and lower risk with caffeine intake (OR 0.83; 95% CI 0.78-0.89)," the researchers report.
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