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Sugary Drinks May Lead to Bowel Cancer, Study Suggests

Sugary Drinks May Lead to Bowel Cancer, Study Suggests

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A new Scottish study may have found a link between sugary drinks and snacks and bowel cancer

Could soda be much worse for your health than previously thought?

While it’s no secret that sugary drinks are not good for your waistline or your teeth, but a new study has found that the effects can be much more dangerous.

The Scottish Colorectal Cancer Study has found that there may be a link between sugary beverages and bowel cancer. The study compared the diets of 2,000 patients diagnosed with bowel cancer and compared them to the dies of a “similar-sized healthy population,” according to the BBC.

Bowel cancer accounts for almost 10 percent of all cancer cases and for eight percent of all cancer-related deaths, according to The Scotsman. The study is the first to correlate poor drinking habits and diet and bowel disease.

While this information is useful and valuable, Jessica Harris, senior health information manager for Cancer Research UK, warns that the information is still in research.

“While this study on its own can’t show for sure that they are linked to cancer risk, it’s still a good idea to limit the amount of high-sugar and high-calorie drinks in your diet,” she said to the BBC. “Having too much of these can lead you to put on weight, which we know is linked to higher risks of bowel cancer.”

One cup of soft drink a day linked to 18 per cent increased cancer risk: study

People who regularly drink sugary beverages may have an increased the risk of cancer, new research suggests.

Drinking almost 200 millilitres of sugar-sweetened drinks and fruit juice a day has been linked to an 18 per cent increased cancer risk, according to the French study of more than 100,000 people.

People who regularly consumer sugary drinks may have an increased risk of cancer. Credit: Jeff Chiu

The findings did not establish a causal link between sugary drinks and cancer but the researchers suggested cutting down on the beverages could reduce the number of cancers at a population level.

Over the past several decades, rising numbers of people worldwide have been consuming sugary drinks linked to obesity (a major risk factor for cancer) as well as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

More than one in three Australians (36 per cent) consume sugar-sweetened drinks at least once per week, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

One in 11 people (9.1 per cent) consume sugar-sweetened drinks daily and about one in five (22.6 per cent) consume them one to three days a week.

A study published on Thursday in the BMJ tracked the sugary drink intake of 101,257 adults (21 per cent men and 79 per cent women) for up to nine years between 2009 and 2018.

The researchers assessed their risk for all types of cancer, as well as some specific types, including breast, colon and prostate cancer and adjusted for several confounding risk factors, including age, sex, educational level, family history, smoking and physical activity levels.

They found a 100 millilitre a day increase in consumption of sugary drinks was linked to an 18 per cent increased risk of overall cancer. This effectively meant the absolute risk of developing cancer for the sugary drink consumers rose from 2.2 per cent to just under 2.6 per cent.

Of the 2,193 cancers recorded during the decade-long study, 693 were breast cancers, 291 were prostate cancers and 166 were colorectal cancers.

When researchers divided the cohort into those who drank fruit juices and those who drank other sweet drinks, both groups were also linked with a higher risk of overall cancer.

The researchers looked at the consumption of soft drink as well as fruit juice.

While obesity and weight gain played a role in the cancer link, it did not explain the entire association, the researchers said.

They hypothesised the effects of the high sugar content on blood sugar levels was a likely factor, as well as the additives used to give the beverages their colours.

The World Health Organisation recommends people should limit their daily intake of sugar to less than 10 per cent of their total energy intake, but a further reduction to below 5 per cent (or about 25 grams a day) would be healthier.

The results backed similar Australian research and built on a growing body of evidence that the high levels of sugar in these drinks were contributing to cancer and other chronic diseases.

A study from the Cancer Council Victoria and the University of Melbourne also found the more sugary drinks participants consumed, the greater their risk of cancer.

The Obesity Policy Coalition is urging the Australian government to regulate the marketing and availability of the drinks.

"It’s virtually impossible to escape the enormous amount of marketing, price promotions and sponsorship by sugary drink companies," Jane Martin, executive manager of coalition, said.

"Young people drink more of these drinks than anyone else and corporations have created this demand, and continue to bombard them with marketing on TV, social media and public transport."

She said a 20 per cent tax on sugary beverages would deter people from the "cheap and very unhealthy drinks".

"Funds raised could be used to promote healthy eating in our community, in time reducing the cancer burden and associated health costs," she said.

Britain, Belgium, France, Hungary and Mexico, have introduced - or are about to introduce - taxes on sugar as public health imperatives.

Amelia Lake, a public health nutrition expert at Teesside University in the UK, said while the French study did not offer a definitive causative answer about sugar and cancer, "it did add to the overall picture of the importance of the current drive to reduce our sugar intake".

"The message from the totality of evidence on excess sugar consumption and various health outcomes is clear – reducing the amount of sugar in our diet is extremely important," she said.

In a statement, the Australian Beverages Council chief executive Geoff Parker said a healthy lifestyle involves considering the whole diet, and "isolating or singling out a particular food or drink isn’t helpful in supporting peoples’ efforts to lead healthier lives."

High-sugar drinks linked to higher risk of bowel cancer under 50

Drinking two or more sugary drinks a day could increase the risk of bowel cancer among women under the age of 50, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that each daily serving was associated with a 16% higher risk.

Replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with artificially sweetened drinks, coffee or milk actually led to a lower risk of disease, the study found.

A team of researchers from the US examined data from the Nurses Health Study – a study tracking the health of nurses and various lifestyle factors over time.

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They examined data on sugar-sweetened beverages among more than 95,000 women who had reported their consumption levels every four years.

And around 41,000 of these women also had data of their sugary drink consumption in adolescence based on previous surveys.

The team found that during the follow-up period, there were 109 cases of early-onset bowel cancer found among the study participants – meaning they were diagnosed under the age of 50.

The study, published in the journal Gut, concluded that compared with people who drank less than one sugar-sweetened beverage each week, women who drank more than two of these sugary drinks each day had a 2.2-fold higher risk of early bowel cancer.

Each serving per day carried a 16% higher risk of the disease.

Replacing each serving per day of a sugar-sweetened beverage with an artificially sweetened drink, coffee, reduced fat milk or whole milk, was linked to a 17% to 36% lower risk of bowel cancer, they added.

“Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption may contribute to the rising incidence of early onset colorectal cancer,” the team wrote.

“Reducing sugar-sweetened beverage intake and/or replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with other healthier beverages among adolescents and young adults may serve as a potential actionable strategy to alleviate the growing burden of early onset colorectal cancer.”

8 Ways Drinking Soda May Increase Your Cancer Risk

It's no secret that soda isn't the healthiest beverage option. After all, it contains zero nutritional value—and excess amounts of sugar. But is the soft drink so unhealthy that soda causes cancer?

Research suggests that soda consumption may increase your risk of cancer. (We'll get into that shortly.) However, Rebecca Hirsch, MS, CDN, oncology dietitian at the Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health, emphasizes that the studies merely show an association between cancer risk and soda consumption—not cause-and-effect. In other words, there's no clear evidence to prove that drinking soda causes cancer. As Hirsch notes, people who regularly drink soda are more likely to be overweight and make poor food choices, which carry health risks as well. "More research needs to be done," she says. Until researchers can find out more, let's take a closer look at the studies which have already found a connection between soda and cancer.

8 Ways Soda Has Been Linked to Cancer


1. Drinking More Soda Increases Risk of Obesity-Related Cancers

Over the course of eight years, researchers from the University of Melbourne and Cancer Council Victoria collected data on the soft drink habits and incidence of obesity-related cancers for more than 35,000 adults. They found that people who drank sugar-sweetened soda were at greater risk of developing obesity-related cancers than those who didn't — no matter their body size. People who drank artificially-sweetened soft drinks weren't found to be at risk, though researchers still say to be cautious.

2. Caramel-Colored Sodas Carry Increased Risk of Cancer

Turns out the caramel color that's so characteristic of colas and other dark soft drinks could be carrying a potential human carcinogen known as 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI). 4-MEI is formed during the manufacture of the food coloring, which also happens to be one of the most widely-used food colors in the world. After testing the 4-MEI concentrations in 110 soft drinks from California and New York, food safety researchers found that several contained more than the amount found to pose a cancer risk (29 micrograms per day). The worst offenders? Pepsi and Malta GOYA.

Currently, the FDA believes there isn't enough of this chemical present in our foods to be concerned about, but several companies have already taken steps to reduce the amount of 4-MEI in their foods.

3. Soda May Increase Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

Researchers collected data on soda consumption, lifestyle habits, environmental factors and incidence of pancreatic cancer from more than 60,000 men and women, with up to 14 years of follow-up. After adjusting for potential confounding factors, researchers found that people who drank two or more sugar-sweetened sodas per week had a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer than those who didn't.

4. Soda May Cause Greater Risk of Colon Cancer Recurrence and Mortality

For people who have been diagnosed with colon cancer or have already beaten it, consuming sugar-sweetened drinks could increase their risk of recurrence or even death, according to a study published in PLOS One. Researchers had over 1,000 stage III colon cancer patients fill out food frequency questionnaires to find out how many sugar-sweetened drinks they had per day, then tracked those patients to determine if there was an association between cancer recurrence and mortality and drinking sugary beverages. They found that those who reported drinking two or more sugar-sweetened beverages per week were at greater risk of recurrence and mortality than those who didn't, especially if they were overweight and inactive.

5. Drinking Soda Puts You At Greater Risk of Endometrial Cancer

Consuming sugary drinks may also increase your risk of endometrial cancer, according to a study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. More than 23,000 postmenopausal women were surveyed about their dietary habits, including consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, and then researchers kept tabs on how many developed endometrial cancer. The finding: Women who reported consuming sugar-sweetened beverages were at a 47 percent greater risk of developing endometrial cancer than women who didn't.

6. Sugar Intake From Soda May Lead to Obesity and Increase Risk of Obesity-Related Cancers

Sugar-sweetened sodas are one of the major sources of added sugars in the average American diet. In fact, a single can of regular soda contains more than eight teaspoons of sugar, which is already more than the American Heart Association's daily added sugar limit of six teaspoons for women, and close to the limit of nine teaspoons for men. Excess sugar intake brings a variety of health risks, including obesity. Obesity itself has been linked to 13 different types of cancer, including breast, endometrial, brain and thyroid cancer, according to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

7. High-Fructose Corn Syrup Found in Soda Plays a Role in Obesity

Another well-known sweetener commonly used in sodas is high-fructose corn syrup. Like sugar, consumption of high-fructose corn syrup has also been associated with obesity, which may, in turn, increase your risk of developing obesity-related cancers.

8. Sugar-Sweetened Sodas May Promote Cancer-Causing Inflammation

Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup have been shown to increase inflammation in ways that can lead to disease, and in some cases cancer. In a University of Texas study on mice, for example, subjects were fed sugar in amounts comparable to the Western diet. Over time, this led to the growth of breast tumors, which eventually spread to the lungs. Researchers attribute this effect, in part, to inflammation.

Soda Also Causes Health Problems Beyond Cancer


Even if these studies merely show a correlation between soda and cancer, other studies have found additional evidence that drinking soda negatively affects your health in other ways.

Soda as a Source of Sugar

Too much sugar from any source is unhealthy, but as the author of a review in Advances in Nutrition notes, most of the sugar in our diets comes from beverages. Drinking too many sugar-sweetened sodas day after day may eventually lead to insulin resistance, which can bring you one step closer towards type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

What's more, sugar-sweetened sodas bring calories, and many of us aren't cutting those calories from other areas in our diets. This means the calories we're consuming via soda are likely "add-on" calories, which can lead to weight gain over time.

Soda and Your Teeth

Drinking soda—naturally or artificially sweetened—can even have a negative effect on the health of your teeth. "Carbonic acid may interact with other flavors to impact tooth enamel," says Hirsch. "So if you're having large amounts of soda, you may want to pay attention to your teeth."

What About Sugar-Free Diet Soda?

Diet sodas aren't much better. You might assume that these calorie-free options are better because they contain no fat or sugar, but artificial sweeteners carry health risks as well.

For example, one study in Clinical Journal of American Society of Nephrology found that people who drank seven or more glasses of diet soda per week had nearly double the risk of developing kidney disease than those who drank one glass or less.

In addition, diet soda consumption has also been associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, though more research is needed.

Should You Stop Drinking Soda?


While you don't have to give up soda cold turkey, you might want to consider cutting back on the beverage. "You should never deprive yourself of the things you enjoy," Hirsch adds, "just understand the concept of moderation." For you, this might mean you start by cutting back on soda consumption and exploring healthier options like flavored seltzers or fruit water. If you're looking for reasons to cut back on these sugar-sweetened, carbonated beverages, we lay out the health benefits you may reap in What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking Soda.

Sugary Drinks | Link Between Sugary Drinks and Bowel Cancer

Maybe you’re not a fan of plain water—we get it!—so you’ve created a mix of beverages to drink both on rides and in everyday life. That could be soda, energy drinks, and fruit juices, in addition to sports drinks. While that might solve your taste issue, a recent study in the journal Gut suggests you may want to rethink your drink.

Researchers looked at data provided by just over 95,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II, an ongoing study of women that began in 1989 and tracks daily habits and health outcomes.

They found that over a 24-year period, those with a higher intake of sugar-sweetened drinks were at higher risk of developing bowel cancer before age 50. Women who drank two or more per day were about twice as likely to be diagnosed with this type of cancer, and each daily serving was associated with a 16 percent higher risk.

The reason for this is likely due to the way sugar-sweetened drinks can cause a rapid rise in blood glucose and insulin secretion, causing inflammation and obesity, which are both associated with higher risk of bowel cancer development.

Although artificial sweeteners have their downsides in other research—like this review, which found negative side effects in some animal and human studies—the researchers in the current study discovered that substituting sugar-sweetened drinks with artificially sweetened ones were beneficial. In those cases, there was a 17 to 36 percent lower risk of bowel cancer diagnosis before age 50.

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What does this mean in terms of daily consumption? First, that when you aren’t exercising, water tends to be a better option, according to dietitian Kelsey Pezzuti, R.D., who specializes in sports nutrition. She told Bicycling that laying off the sports drinks as a regular beverage can help you control the amount of sugar you’re consuming overall.

When you are on a ride or doing other exercise, a sports drink can be beneficial if your activity is at moderate-to-high intensity and lasts for more than hour. That’s because their combination of fluid, electrolytes, and carbs has been shown to help many people power through intense workouts with sustained energy compared to plain water.

If that ride is just 30 minutes of commuting, though? Not so much.

“These drinks are idea for athletes training several hours per day, such as marathon runners or triathletes,” said Pezzuti. “If your workout lasts less than an hour, chances are slim that you actually need a sports drink.”

The sugary drinks and young-adult colon cancer connection

Chadwick Boseman's death from colon cancer at the shockingly young age of 43 was a wake up call. Colon cancer, like most cancers, is more common in older people, and early detection has been focused on the over-50 population. Rates of colon cancer have indeed been declining in the older population – the development of cancer in the gut can be prevented when polyps are removed during colonoscopy, before they have a chance to turn into a cancerous tumor – but the rates have risen sharply in younger adults. For people born in the 1990s the risk of colon cancer is twice that of people born in the 1950s.

What explains the rise in colorectal cancer among Millennials and Gen Xers?

The most likely explanation is lifestyle risk factors: Colon cancer risk factors include a family history of the disease and several chronic diseases of the large bowel, but also, more importantly, poor diet, obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption and lack of exercise. In other words, as fast food, obesity and sedentary practices rise, so would the risk of colon cancer.

A new study in the journal Gut looks at the leading source of added sugar in the US diet – sugary drinks – and the risk of early-age colon cancer. The researchers analyzed data from almost 120,000 women who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study II between the years 1991-2015, with a 24 year follow up, looking at diet and health outcomes.

Among this large group there were 109 cases of early-age (before the age of 50 years) colon cancer.

Women who drank more sugary drinks were more likely to be less physically active and have lower diet quality – eat less fruits, vegetables and fiber, and eat more processed meat. But even after adjusting for all the above colon-cancer risk factors, as well as for obesity, alcohol intake etc., higher sugary drink intake was associated with an increased risk of early colon cancer.

Women who drank more than 2 servings of sugary drinks had more than double the risk of developing early onset colon cancer, with a dose-response additional risk with each additional sugary drink. The increased risk was associated with sugary drinks, and not with fruit juices.

Added sugar and your gut

Americans’ consumption of sugary drinks rose dramatically in the second half of the 20th century, with kids drinking soda earlier in life and in greater quantities.

We already know that sugary drinks are linked with obesity, as well as with several chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

This study shows a link between sugary drinks and early-age colon cancer in a large women cohort. What could explain that? We already know that sugary drinks promote weight gain by the sheer fact that they introduce plenty of calories, yet lead to very little satiety, and therefore can result in overeating and weight gain. They can also make blood sugar rise quickly, leading to a rise in insulin, which can long-term result in insulin-resistance, inflammation, type-2 diabetes and weight gain. All of these are known risk factors for colon cancer.

But beyond that, the authors write:

“By causing dysbiosis and endotoxaemia, fructose can impair gut barrier function and increase gut permeability, which could promote colorectal carcinogenesis. A recent experimental study demonstrated that HFCS-treated mice had substantial colon tumour growth with aggressive tumour grade, independent of obesity and metabolic syndrome,30 which lends additional support to the link between SSBs (sugar sweetened beverages) and CRC (colorectal cancer) risk.”

Allow me to explain. Fructose is part of most of the added sugars we consume, including table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Fructose in sugary drinks overwhelms the small intestine’s absorption capacity and reaches the large intestine where it can cause imbalance in the microorganisms living within the gut (the microbiome), and lead to the production of bacterial toxic materials, resulting in further changes in the gut that promote the formation of cancer cells.

Colon cancer rates are rising among young people, but fortunately this disease is still relatively rare.

The other afflictions associated with the soda habit are much more common, and much more evidence connects the sugary-drink habit with outcomes such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The Sugar-Cancer Connection

Although researchers emphasized that the exact reason is unknown, they suggested that the mechanism is likely the way sugar-sweetened drinks can cause a rapid rise in blood glucose and insulin secretion.

This can cause chronic, systemic inflammation and contribute to obesity, which are both associated with higher risk of bowel cancer development.

They added that emerging evidence also suggests that fructose—a type of simple sugar that makes up about half of table sugar—can impair gut function to some degree, particularly in terms of gut permeability, which may promote cancer development.

This is not the first time that a link between sugary drinks and cancer has been investigated. A study in BMJ found notable associations with these beverages and overall cancer, particularly breast cancer.   Like the recent research, artificially sweetened beverages were not associated with these types of risks.

Diet drinks are ‘AS BAD as regular versions raising risk of dying young’

DIET drinks are no better for your health than sugary versions, a new study suggests.

Drinking artificially sweetened drinks “raises your risk of dying young” with consumers more likely to die from heart disease, researchers found.

Experts at Zhengzhou University in China tracked 1.2 million adults over more than 20 years to learn more about their consumption of soft drinks.

They found 137,310 deaths occurred - with the risk of dying increasing for every 250ml of sweetened drink consumed each day.

The standard size for a can of a soft drink is 330ml with a bottle being 500ml.

Writing in the Journal of Public Health lead study author Dr Hongyi Li said people who consumed sugar-sweetened drinks had a five per cent increased risk of dying from any cause.

This is while they had a 13 per cent higher risk of dying from heart disease.

Those who drank the most sugar-sweetened drinks were 12 per cent more likely to die from any cause and 20 per cent more likely to die from heart disease when compared to those who drank the least.

High consumption of both artificially sweetened beverages and sugar-sweetened beverages showed significant associations with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease mortality and all-cause mortality

Dr Hongyi Li Zhengzhou University

Looking at artificially sweetened drinks, the researchers found they were linked to a four per cent increased risk of dying from any cause and a seven per cent higher risk of heart disease.

Experts have said that ideally, people should avoid drinking these drinks and should instead opt for “healthy alternatives”, but industry leaders say the drinks are fine as part of a balanced diet.

People who drank more of the artificially sweetened drinks were 12 per cent more likely to die of any cause and 23 per cent more likely to die of heart disease - a three per cent increase on those drinking the drinks including sugar.

Dr Li said: “High consumption of both artificially sweetened beverages and sugar-sweetened beverages showed significant associations with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease mortality and all-cause mortality.

“This information may provide ideas for decreasing the global burden of diseases by reducing sweetened beverage intake.”

It was previously reported that there is a link between diet drinks and cardiovascular disease.

Researchers in the US found that the artificially sweetened drinks "were not a health substitute".

A team of French researchers also found that sugar in the drinks causes our bodies to store more fat around organs such as the liver and pancreas, and this has been linked to a higher risk of cancer.

In April 2018, the UK government introduced a sugar tax in order to boost the nation's health.

This One Type of Soda May Increase Liver Cancer Risk, New Study Suggests

You'd do anything to protect your most vital organs and reduce your cancer risk, right? Your food choices, watching how much you drink, and plenty of other practices are proof. Well, a new study is challenging one pesky soda choice you might still be making. Just because it's no-calorie and even sugar-free might not mean you're in the clear.

A meta-analysis of 38 previous studies was published in the March issue of the Public Health Nutrition. The two researchers, Myung Seung-Kwon, M.D., Ph.D. of Korea's National Cancer Center, and Ph.D. student Alfred Jethro, were interested to see how soft drinks with artificial sweeteners are connected with the risk of gastrointestinal cancers—that is, cancer of the colon, stomach, esophagus, pancreas, or liver.

Based on their analysis of the 38 studies, the researchers did not find an association between the overall risk of gastrointestinal cancer and soft drinks. However, when it came to a particular type of cancer, there was clearly a link—from the Korean Biomedical Review: "The sub-analysis on specific types of cancer showed that soda with artificial sweeteners raised the risk of liver cancer by 28 percent."

Seung-Kwon listed "artificial sweeteners" like "aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, neotame, and acesulfame" as compounds that are "used in soft drinks because they can reduce calories." Why? Because they're "hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than sugar."

A report we published in recent years explains how aspartame blocks an important gut enzyme that can prevent obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. This feature of the artificial sweetener, and others like it, is proof that zero-sugar sodas aren't great for your body, per se.

Even so, while the results of this study are enlightening—and even though there are a number of other health issues these artificial sweeteners have been associated with—the researchers for the current study conclude that there's not enough evidence to suggest that artificial sweeteners do indeed cause liver cancer.

Still, before you crack open that next can of diet of "zero" soda, you may want to read What's Worse: Diet Soda or Regular Soda? Or if you just reach for a soda when you need a fizzy lift, these 10 sparkling waters might be a better bet.

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New Study Says This Drink Could Cause Rare Cancers

If you have the habit of downing a soda every day, you might want to think about cutting back. A new study suggests that those who consume the bubbly stuff and other sugary drinks may have a higher risk of developing rare cancers in the gallbladder and liver, Reuters reports.

Researchers who led the study wondered if these highly sugary drinks could play a role in developing cancer because they are already linked to high blood sugar and weight gain. And so the study analyzed data from more than 70,000 adults over 13 years, looking at their eating and drinking habits and whether they were diagnosed with cancer. Of the participants, only about 150 people developed liver or gallbladder cancers.

That being said, the results show that people who indulged in two or more soda and juice were more than twice as likely to develop gallbladder tumors&mdashand 79 percent more likely to get liver cancer&mdashthan those who avoided sugary drinks altogether. And this applies to both artificially sweetened and sugar-sweetened drinks. Yikes.

"[This study] is the first to show a strong link between consumption of sweetened beverages, such as soda, and risk of biliary tract cancers," lead study author Susanna Larsson of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, told the wire news service.

In other words, it might be time to kick your Diet Coke habit and switch to seltzer.

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