Hydrate with caffeinated diet sodas!

That is, if you like soda.  Don’t take up the habit.  I’m not so motivated-reasoning here (can I use motivated reasoning as a compound verb?) on this issue that I would ever argue against the idea that just plain water is best.  But damn am I sick of hearing from everybody about how the diet soda is going to kill me.  “But chemicals!!”  Anyway, I actually had to put up with hearing somebody going on about the cancer link.  Yeah, yeah, come back to me when I consume half my body weight in artificial sweetener.  Here’s what the national cancer institute says on the matter:

Is there an association between artificial sweeteners and cancer?

Questions about artificial sweeteners and cancer arose when early studies showed that cyclamate in combination with saccharin caused bladder cancer in laboratory animals. However, results from subsequent carcinogenicity studies (studies that examine whether a substance can cause cancer) of these sweeteners have not provided clear evidence of an association with cancer in humans. Similarly, studies of other FDA-approved sweeteners have not demonstrated clear evidence of an association with cancer in humans.

As those who eat lunch with me know, I generally consume massive quantities of Diet Dr Pepper (and Diet Coke if its an okay day and on sad days, the damnable Diet Pepsi).  So, there I am drinking 40 ounces or more of liquid which is 99% or so water and people telling me that I am actually dehydrating myself because of the caffeine.  Oh please!  Maybe drinking 40 ounces of caffeinated is like drinking 38 ounces of non-caffeinated, but the idea that I would have a net loss of water?!  Of course, there’s science on this, too:


The available literature suggests that acute ingestion of caffeine in large doses (at least 250-300 mg, equivalent to the amount found in 2-3 cups of coffee or 5-8 cups of tea) results in a short-term stimulation of urine output in individuals who have been deprived of caffeine for a period of days or weeks. A profound tolerance to the diuretic and other effects of caffeine develops, however, and the actions are much diminished in individuals who regularly consume tea or coffee. Doses of caffeine equivalent to the amount normally found in standard servings of tea, coffee and carbonated soft drinks appear to have no diuretic action.


The most ecologically valid of the published studies offers no support for the suggestion that consumption of caffeine-containing beverages as part of a normal lifestyle leads to fluid loss in excess of the volume ingested or is associated with poor hydration status. Therefore, there would appear to be no clear basis for refraining from caffeine containing drinks in situations where fluid balance might be compromised.

I know, I know, recent research on elevated stroke risk and older women; possible impact on the microbiome, etc., but people really need to stop treating diet soda like I’m drinking turpentine.  I’ll keep taking my chances here.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

3 Responses to Hydrate with caffeinated diet sodas!

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    Hey – watch that talk about Diet Pepsi! That’s my carbonated beverage of choice. And no fructose is an added benefit.
    I only drink about 6 oz a day but I enjoy every drop. And I can sing the 1950s commercial – “Pepsi Cola hits the spot”!

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