Cheers, Utah! Coffee vs. Diet Coke

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Utah is known for its cultural stand against coffee, but are we pointing our health fingers at the wrong beverage?

Steven Welch | Staff Writer | [email protected]

When it comes to cultural stands against coffee and culturally accepted Coca-Cola products, one of these brown beverages is more dangerous than the other, and it’s likely not the one you think.

As an avid coffee consumer, I’m no stranger to the allegedly caring concerns people around me dish out when they see me carrying my morning Starbucks.

“Coffee causes cancer and heart disease.”

“Coffee is addictive.”

“Coffee has enough caffeine to kill a baby.”

Of course, none of these are actually true. But I find it especially interesting when I’m told these cappuccino myths from someone holding a Diet Coke or any number of other diet sodas. I find myself wondering what is actually inside that personalized Coke bottle people are carrying around.

With the ingredients listed on the side of the bottle, the answers are not too far away. The main ingredients in a Diet Coke are carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium citrate, natural flavors, citric acid, and caffeine. While water and caffeine are both components of a morning cup of joe, the other ingredients listed on a Diet Coke bottle are unfamiliar and concerning, to say the least.

Caramel color is made by heating sugars to get a desired color. While that sounds relatively natural, a study published by the National Toxicology Program showed an increase in lung cancer in mice from long-term exposure to the contaminants from caramel color. In 2011 the International Agency for Research on Cancer said that caramel coloring is likely carcinogenic to humans.

Another alarmingly dangerous ingredient in Diet Coke is the low-calories sweetener aspartame. This additive has been linked to cancer in animals from exposure and possible mental problems like early-onset Alzheimer’s.

The ingredient phosphoric acid is directly linked to tooth decay. The people at Coca-Cola will tell you it is safe because, from a statement released from the company, “Phosphorus is a major components of bones”.

However, according to a study printed in the Epidemiology journal, phosphoric acid is also associated with risks of kidney disease, urinary changes and kidney stones.

Now the ingredient “natural flavors” sounds like a breath of fresh air but the US Food and Drug Administration doesn’t make it mandatory for food companies to disclose the ingredients of their natural flavor additives as long as the chemicals in them are considered by the agency to be generally recognized as safe.

But safe doesn’t mean you necessarily want to be putting it into your body. For example, the natural ingredient castoreum is created from a secretion from a beaver’s anal gland. Natural? Yes. Safe to ingest? Yes. Something most people want to be consuming? No.

Diet Coke has also been shown to be mildly addicting—which would explain why Santa is always popping bottles in ads—and it increases the risk of vascular problems and weakened bone density in women.

So if you’ve ever wondered what you are really drinking when you open happiness, now you have a small idea. As for me, I’ll stick with my anal-secretion-free morning latte, thank you.

4 thoughts on “Cheers, Utah! Coffee vs. Diet Coke

  1. The reason why aspartame is beneficial for use is because it is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar. Therefore a very small amount is required to achieve the same level of sweetness without the added calories or change in blood sugar levels, making it ideal for controlling weight and blood sugar.

    Although a lot of controversy surrounds the ingredient, aspartame is one of the most extensively studied ingredients in the world with hundreds of studies steadily showing that aspartame can be safely consumed. Despite claims of carcinogenicty and Alzheimers risk, as stated here, the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society as well as the Alzheimers Association recognize the safety of aspartame. For more information on what these organizations have to say, check out there websites!
    National Cancer Institute:
    American Cancer Society: http://goo

    1. Okay, but… what’s better? Consume a potentially dangerous chemical and ‘artificial’ (keyword there) sweetener that hundreds of studies have shown to be bad for you, or

      … not?

      I’d say that your perceived “benefit” of aspartame is a double-edged sword.

      In fact, soda should just be done away with all together.

      One of the big arguments that can be made in favor of coffee over sugary soda is that if you drink soda, it will make you fat! That’s fact…

      I’ve never heard anyone complain about coffee making them fat.

  2. Studies have shown that coffee has the same impact on your body as cigarettes in some ways. They are both carcinogenic and can kill you.
    Coffee is basically tar that you are ingesting. I don’t get people who like it. It smells okay but it tastes horrible.
    Plus, it’s horrible for you. Linked to a bunch of cancers and things. This author doesn’t know what he’s talking about and will probably die early from his “avid coffee consumption”. Imo he’s just trying to be liberal and get a reaction.

    1. How is political affiliation possibly connected to drink choice (that said, Vox should get on that. I would look at that graph)? It’s not so much a drink for liberals as a drink for a huge percentage of people living in our country.
      Your comment seems pretty unsubstantiated, pal, and a little narrow-minded. Show me the studies that claim that coffee (which does not cause lung cancer) affects the body in the same way that cigarettes (which does cause lung cancer). Were these studies you refer to published in peer-reviewed journals? If your source ends in, it doesn’t count (sorry, that was kind of rude of me to say).
      Coffee is on the American Institute for Cancer Research list of foods that fight cancer. Like every other substance on this planet, it’s the dose that is poison, and that discussion has been up in the air for a very very long time. Enough water can kill…

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