Thursday, March 13, 2008

How many sodas do you drink a day?

“A man’s true wealth is his health.” - The Buddha.

I definitely agree with the Buddha on this one. I appreciate the wisdom, but this is one of those lessons in life that you must learn for yourself – since it seems no one gives it much thought until they have a brush with disaster or just plain get old. Most of us take our health for granted.

Fortunately, I’ve always had a keen interest in health and exercise and tend to read a lot of health and fitness information, magazines, etc. So, I consider myself fairly informed about health issues. Yet, I have been astounded by some of the factoids that I have come across while reading You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty (You) by Roizen and Oz.

One of the most interesting and alarming tips concerns the consumption of fizzy, syrupy drinks. Evidently, drinking these types of beverages increases your chances of pancreatic cancer substantially! I could hardly believe it; so I Googled it and found all kinds of sources that backed up the claim. For instance, this MSNBC article references a Swedish study that makes the statement:

The group of people who said they drank fizzy or syrup-based drinks twice a day or more ran a 90 percent higher risk of getting cancer of the pancreas than those who never drank them.

Twice a day? That’s two cokes a day. Now, there is the caveat that this type of cancer is very rare, so increasing your chances by 90% is still a smallish number. But, just knowing that there is a coke to cancer correlation is rather disturbing. I realize just about anything in excess can cause health problems, but two sodas a day? Basically, your doubling your odds by drinking a couple of silly cokes.

Nowadays, I will only occasionally have a soda, but there was a time in my early twenties that I drank two diet cokes a day, like clockwork. I didn’t think much of it, because everybody that I knew drank sodas with some drinking 5-6 Dr Peppers a day!

Why isn’t this information more available to the public? Isn’t that one of the roles of the Surgeon General? To educate the public on possible health issues? A lot of this information is fairly simple and straightforward and it just seems like it ought to be brought to the attention of the citizens. Of course, there may be some who would rather not have this information available to anyone.....


  1. I absolutely hate studies like this. I think there are too many factors at play to link the two things inexorably.

    Your Swedes point out that the folks they're looking at consume two or MORE per day. And that increases the chances by 90%...

    So if a small percentage of the soda-drinking populace drinks 10 Dr Peppers a day and doesn't exercise, they can skew the entire thing by quite a lot -- particularly for something that occurs as infrequently as cancer. Note: I imagine folks like that are really shocking/taxing their systems with such a high level of sugar intake and I'm making them my study-martyrs.

    However, there's an entire group of folks over here who are healthy (exercise & eat OK) and just happen to drink three *insert favorite drink*'s per day. They're not getting cancer, but they're still at "elevated risk". Because they're lumped in with the martyrs, everything skews.

    And I'm also guessing that people who rarely drink soda pop are, on average, more healthy overall (more prone to exercise, eat right). Which would further skew the results toward the realm of "shock & awe".

    In short, maybe there is some kind of correlation between high levels of soda & pancreatic cancer, but it's very misleading for them to say that drinking two Cokes a day will almost double your risk. And it's compounded - the media feeds on this type of fear stuff.

    Translation of rant: I don't think you've got much to worry about. ;)

    I enjoy your blog, btw, please keep it up.

    AutoEngineer (can't get Blogger to let me sign my name using the name/URL checkbox)

  2. Good point! The article would have been better if it had mentioned the upper bound on number of drinks and/or broke out the data for a more specific range of drinks consumed.

    Sorry about the Name/URL not working - Blogger can be quirky and intermittent at times, but not bad for the price.

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