Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Will my Fresca kill me?

     Cancer is not the dreaded “c-word” death sentence of old. But the word still catches your attention. So when a division of the World Health Organization announced that aspartame, an artificial sweetener commonly found in diet soda, “could possibly cause cancer,” this can-a-day Fresca addict, of course, took notice.
     It would be the type of irony you expect in a topsy-turvy world — all those years of guzzling Jack Daniels, and Fresca does me in. Of course.
     I checked the ingredients of my beloved grapefruit-flavored carbonated beverage. Yup, aspartame.
     Then I went back to the article that had delivered the bad news — important to do now that we absorb scraps of information by scrolling, flipping and glancing — and kept reading. Seven paragraphs in, the threshold of danger, as explained by another WHO unit, is presented as consuming more than a dozen cans a day, for a 150-pound man. Or about 20 for me. Quite a lot, really. And I don’t even drink a Fresca every day. Some days I’m in a restaurant, and restaurants typically don’t serve Fresca, through some mysterious general menu exclusion. Or I splurge on lemonade.
     So I’m probably safe. In that regard.
     The process of balancing dangers, evaluating them, changing your behavior accordingly — what you do despite the peril, what you refuse, despite the benefits — doesn’t get a fraction of the attention it deserves. Like the computers we’re increasingly enslaved to, we’ve become creations of 0s or 1s, safe or dangerous, when most of life actually transpires in the great gray region between.

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  1. I'm old enough to remember when they said cyclamates caused cancer. So they pulled the fake sweeteners with cyclamates from the stores & from the diet drinks sweetened with them.
    They we found out it only caused cancer when they fed it to rats at a rate of a couple of hundred bottles of pop per day if it were a human drinking it.
    So I'm not worried about aspartame at all!

  2. I admit to the occasional Diet Coke with a burger and fries. It's a taste trio you can't break up. As for Aspartame and its artificial sweetener friends, not great but you would have to consume quite a lot to be in real danger. I'm a big fan of fizzy grapefruit drinks on the regular. No added sugar or sweeteners in LaCroix Pamplemousse or spindrift grapefruit and spindrift has 3g of natural sugar due to a kiss of real grapefruit juice inside. Give 'em a try!

  3. A few days after we had some friends over for dinner a few of them told us they tested positive. Two of them started taking Paxlovid and said the side effects were terrible.
    A couple of days later I had some very minor symptoms and tested positive as well even though I had five vaccinations. I decided not to take Paxlovid as I figured why trade minor symptoms for terrible ones. It did take me a little longer to test negative but I was only marginally affected by the virus.

  4. Little known fact - we are all dying. I can't recall the last news blurb about some food that made me change habits. Wine - bad for you; wine - good for your heart; Wine - can upset your blood chemistry; wine - helps in digestion and release some wonder hormone. Not far off from hearing medical ads to cure, improve, etc - followed by 30 seconds of how the same drug can make you sick or death.

    1. Paul Bowles to interviewer Gena Dagel Caponi in 1986 as he prepares tea: "I've noticed Americans don't take sugar these days. I suppose it's bad for you. Of course, eating is bad for you. It will kill you. You can eat for seventy-five, eighty years, and then suddenly one day you're dead."

    2. My only remaining vice, in my geezerhood, is food. I don't drink any quit smoking cigarettes thirty years ago. Don't drink coffee. Or gamble. Or chase skirts...happily married for almost 31 years. But I still like to eat. Trying to lose weight, and have been moderately successful.

      What will probably kill me is my Coke addiction (please note the upper-case C).Both my wife and I are big Classic Coca-Cola drinkers, and have been for decades. Probably not a good thing..We love the stuff!

    3. I was a big fan of Classic Coke, as well, and enjoyed few things more than a gigantic serving of fountain Coke from a 7-11, McDonald's or whatever off-brand gas station I'd be at. 32 oz.? Bring it on. 44 oz. Super Big Gulp? I'd finish it and wish there was more. At a certain point over a decade ago, I decided maybe those calories weren't doing me any good as my metabolism slowed and the pounds started accumulating. So, I gave up Coke and all pop cold turkey. Didn't move to diet pop, as that never appealed to me.

      Since then, soft-drink-wise, I've been stuck with flavored fizzy water, a category which exploded not long after I made the choice. I can't really say it fully scratches the Coke itch, but it's better than plain water! As LBSTGMGR notes in the second comment, Spindrift is a fine option in its many varieties. Not sure its natural juice component makes it worth the extra expense compared with the store-brand seltzer I usually get, but it is tastier.

      Of course, I didn't really notice any weight benefit from abandoning the Coke -- my interest in enjoying the craft beer avalanche saw to that. Certain styles can pack close to 300 calories in a 12-oz. bottle! Luckily, I'm not the only one who noticed that and breweries have really responded with lower-calorie, lower-alcohol and non-alcoholic options.

  5. When I first encountered the world of dermatology some years ago, "keratoses" was what the doctors called the items they froze off my skin. Of late, they are being called "pre-cancers." The "C" word still attracts one's attention. I for one shy away from diet soda even though the over consumption of just plain sugar and sugary drinks is a more serious problem than the speculative nature of consuming fake sugars. Gloria Swanson, where are you when we need your lifelong campaign against sugar?


  6. There is also a risk of relapse with Paxlovid. I would also question the benefit of this type of drug. Tamiflu has been touted as reducing flu symptoms, but if you look at the actual studies it reduces recovery time by only one day, on average.

  7. Prior to the development of the coevid vaccines and approved treatments The majority of the people that became infected did not need to be hospitalized, a significant percentage did and some people died.
    As the virus mutated the percentages changed some of the variants we're more severe. This is about the time The vaccines became available thankfully.
    The vaccines definitely diminish the severity of the infection for the majority of people.

    Some people still need to be hospitalized but far less far far less and less people die.

    This also coincided with less severe variants emerging around the world.

    It's difficult to determine how effective the vaccines are, but they're effective. They won't keep you from getting COVID but they definitely keep you from getting as sick.

    It's possible they diminish the symptoms of long covid. There's been some connection to this.

    I'm really glad you got your vaccinations and boosters. I'm really sorry that you got pretty sick anyway, even with the paxlovid.

    Viral infections are kind of a crap shoot and they're affected by comorbidities, not everyone's the same. Not everyone gets the same vaccine. Not everyone gets the same variant.

    I've had it twice and suffer from the long covid. I'm about to go into a cardiologist appointment right now. I first got infected in 2020 and then again in 2021. It sucks. They're not sure that what's wrong with me now. Has anything to do with covid it might I don't know but I got the vaccines and still got infected a second time. So the antibodies from the first infection plus the signals to my immune system from the vaccines didn't protect me all that well. This is a new virus. They're still trying to figure it out. Obviously people are still getting it. Some people die. It sucks.

    They're not really sure exactly how it got out into the world, though it seems fairly certain it came from a wet market in China. It may take years to figure out what's going on here and to get a more effective vaccine that might actually keep you from getting it, which would be a huge breakthrough. They're working on it.

  8. It's probably best to avoid large quantities of chemical additives in foods but you're most likely in more peril from an airplane evacuation slide.

  9. So spot on. I am, and have been for a very long time a person that espouses that we live in a very gray world, so why do we always seem to want to frame things as black and white? The world, with all of its different people, is a very complicated place. Politicians drive me the craziest - it’s possible W Bush exacerbated this with his “if you’re not for us, you’re against us” bullshit. Donald Trump introduces his special brand of crazy and ramps it up to 11. If people in general exercised more nuance in nearly every aspect of their daily lives the world would be a much better (and saner) place. Sadly, too many people don’t even know what the word means.

    1. George W Bush lied about WMDs so he could have his little war. 4400 Americans died as a direct result of that war, hundreds more have died from various lingering effects. When you see the Wounded Warrior pitch for a $19/month donation, you are being asked to pay for W's depraved folly. But he didn't start the false equivalences, Ronald Reagan, in his best acting role, started us down the path that led us here.

  10. A lot of diet pop is now 'zero": Zero Coke, Zero Pepsi, etc. They're using artificial sweetener that I believe is used in Splenda. It's much more natural tasting (I had a Zero A&W root beer recently, and it tastes like pop with sugar). I don't know if "zero" sweetener is a cancer risk, but it sure tastes great. Eat you veggies and other real food as much as you can. Four or 5 cans of diet pop a week isn't going to kill you.

    Regarding drug side effects, I don't understand why some drug side effects are exactly why you're taking the med in the first place. SEs for depression meds can be depression or suicidal thoughts. There's some kind of device used in treat AFib which can cause stokes. SE for the device: stroke. I'm on a med with a list of SEs as long as my arm and I haven't had any of them. Like the rest of life, it's a crap shoot.

  11. Some of those artificial sweetners are said to affect brain chemistry.


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