Are Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi Bad For You? (Slideshow)

A look into the controversial artificial sweetener aspartame

Concerns Raised

flickr - Beau B

Many people have been worried that aspartame, the dominant sweetener in Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, may cause everything from brain tumors to cancers, but many of these fears are largely unfounded. 

PKU

flickr - André-Pierre

If you suffer from PKU, a genetic disorder, or are on certain medicines such as medications that contain levodopa, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or neuroleptics, aspartame may be unsafe for you to consume. 

Labeling

flickr - boboroshi

Aspartame has been deemed safe in Europe, but labeling of the sweetener is mandatory there.

Sweeter Still

flickr - Evaswensen

Aspartame is about 200 times sweeter than sugar.

Diabetic Friendly

flickr - jacreative

Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi are options that are currently considered safe for people who have diabetes.

Self-Regulating

flickr - Family O'Abé

Several supermarket chains in the UK, including Sainsbury's and M&S, have stated that they will no longer use aspartame in the products that bear the store name in response to customer concerns.

They May Be Safe, But They Might Not Help You Lose Weight

flickr - On the White Line

In one study, rats gained the same amount of weight whether they were ingesting saccharin, aspartame, or sucrose (sugar-water).

In Fact, They Might Help You Gain Weight

Flickr - LaurelLewis23

Other studies have shown that weight gain was promoted by the use of aspartame or saccharin as compared with sucrose, although it was suspected that this might have to do with less energy being expended and that the diet drinks may have encouraged fluid retention. 

Considered Safe by Government Institutions

flickr - Jason Pratt

Both the European Food Safety Authority and the U.S. National Institute of health have determined that aspartame has been studied at length and is safe for human consumption.

Questions

flickr - Marcin Wichary

However, other concerns have been raised about the general health effects of aspartame. Dr. Morando Soffritti, Director of the Ramazzini Institute in Bologna, Italy, has suggested that the initial 1970s studies on aspartame showing that it was safe weren't very good studies.