effects of diet soft drinks on your health

Is There a Cancer Risk Lurking in my Diet Drink?

Carli Hill RD, CSO, CD

How many of you have heard that you shouldn’t drink “diet” beverages because the sweetener in them causes cancer? Then, have you ever wondered if it was true? Well, hopefully the next few paragraphs will answer some of your questions.

There are several kinds of artificial sweeteners, but two, in particular, have received the most attention when it comes to a link with cancer. Aspartame and saccharin.

Aspartame, also seen as Equal or Nutrasweet, was linked to leukemia and lymphoma in an animal study. However, when human intake of aspartame was studied, no connection was found to leukemia, lymphoma, or brain tumors. There wasn’t even a link found when consumption was as high as 3400 mg of aspartame per day (~19 cans of diet soda).

Saccharin, also seen as Sweet ’N Low, was connected with bladder cancer in an animal study. Yet, when looking at the mechanism behind the connection, scientists found that this link was specific to rats and didn’t apply to humans.  Additionally, further human studies haven’t shown consistent evidence to link saccharin to cancer in humans.

Now that we’ve cleared up the mystery behind those two sweeteners, what about some of the others, such as Acesulfame potassium (Sweet One, Sunett) and Sucralose (Splenda)? The FDA has conducted over 100 studies for each of those sweeteners and no evidence was found to suggest either one could cause cancer.

So, in a nutshell, there is no convincing evidence to link artificial sweeteners to cancer risk. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the products made with those sweeteners are “healthy”. Take a look at the other ingredients on the label, keep in mind the other topics we’ve been discussing, and then make an educated decision.

If you’d like more information, go to the National Cancer Institute webiste or the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Chronic Illness Management

July 21 – August 25, 2011
North Star Lodge Community Room

My Health, My Life, is designed to help individuals who suffer from chronic illness related to cancer, arthritis, diabetes, asthma, depression, obesity, heart disease, or chronic pain learn simple techniques on how to live a healthy life by managing their symptoms. Caregivers and family support persons are welcome to attend. Classes are 2 ½ hours once a week for six weeks. To register for classes or for more information, call 509-225-3178.

My Health, My Life is presented in partnership with Stanford University.

View classes and events for scheduled sessions


Yakima Golf Tournaments

River Ridge Cancer Challenge

Golf is in the air!  And for forty-eight hours you can get your fill at the River Ridge Golf Course for some seriously hard core golf with a tropical flair.  Tiki torches honoring cancer patients will light the pathways while construction grade lights will illuminate the course.  Players can enjoy one round (nine holes) or five if you’ve got the stamina.  It all begins at 5 pm Friday, July 29 and runs through Sunday at 6 am.  There will be non-stop live music at the club house, prizes, a putting contest and a custom built tiki hut serving food and beverage on the 5th hole.   All of the proceeds will benefit North Star Lodge Patient Care Services.

For information call 509-697-5636 or 509-607-0294 or email ASybouts@Gmail.com.

USDA’s My Plate vs. AICR’s The New American Plate

Written by Lena Gill, RD, CSO, CD

In case you may not have heard by now, the Food Guide Pyramid is gone–and hopefully most of the confusion along with it. It has been replaced with My Plate, a practical visual tool that encourages eating modest amounts from each food group.  Most health professionals agree this design is much more user friendly when compared to the original Food Guide Pyramid.  However, since we’ve encouraged AICR’s The New American Plate in a previous blog, you may be asking, “Which ‘plate plan’ is best to follow?”

To answer this question, let’s take at look at how these two plates compare:

  • The New American Plate recommends filling 2/3 of your plate with plant-based foods, such as whole-grains, fruits and vegetables, and limiting the animal proteins to the remaining 1/3 of your plate.  Low-fat dairy may be included, yet the focus is on a plant-based diet where dairy isn’t given equal status with veggies, fruits, and grains.  The goal with this plan is to utilize the naturally occurring antioxidants and phytochemicals found in plant-based foods to reduce your risk of cancer/recurring cancers.  The New American Plate was created to be consistent with the AICR Guidelines for Cancer Prevention.


  • My Plate suggests dividing your plate into quarters where each section includes a fruit, a vegetable, a grain (encouraging ½ or more of total grains in the day to be whole vs. white/refined) and a protein (animal or plant source), plus a serving of dairy.  This makes a balanced meal in the sense that it includes at least one serving from each of the 5 food groups at most meals.  All foods seem to be created equally and do not take into account specific dietary needs.  My Plate was created to be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.

Both encourage eating whole foods from each of the food groups and discourage excessive amounts of simple sugars, fats and sodium.  Following either one of these “plate plans” in the appropriate portions is likely to result in achieving a healthy body weight. This is a large part of the equation for reducing your chances of cancer, as well as other weight-related diseases (diabetes, heart disease, sleep disturbances, etc.).   If you are already at your ideal weight either method will help you maintain your weight.   In a nutshell, BOTH are excellent and provide similar benefits to your health.  The question you may want to ask yourself now is “Which plate is the easiest, most practical method for me to follow?”

Taking Breaks During Cancer Treatment

Finding out that the Princess had cancer put a whole new meaning to living one day at a time. Our family was always pretty much in that mode but we at least directed our one day and decided how we were going live it. Now all of a sudden others are making the calls, chemo this day, blood draws this day, doctors this day, radiation this day and a many other things that redirect your life. Yes you have to take it all with grain of salt and always look to the bright  side but when breaks arise take advantage of them. Take road trips, get out of the house and out of the town. Take with you whats important and enjoy the change.

Giving yourself “me time”

As a caregiver please keep this in mind and that is your own peace of mind and make sure you give yourself some “me time”. I know that you will not eat as you should and may not sleep as well as you did before you took on this task. But please have a relative, friend, neighbor, Hospice or someone you trust take the pleasure of careing for your Princess so you can take some time for yourself. Walk the dog, go hit some golfballs but please get a little time to clear you brain a bit. I know it’s much easier said then done but a good  brisk walk or some time for a unrelated conversation will do you more good than you can imagine.