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Does diet soda stop cancer? Two Yale Cancer Center docs have diametrically opposite views!

Check out these two quotes regarding a recent study, “Associations of artificially sweetened beverage intake with disease recurrence and mortality in stage III colon cancer.”

First there’s the claim:

Artificially sweetened drinks have a checkered reputation in the public because of the purported health risks that have never really been documented. Our study clearly shows they help avoid cancer recurrence and death in patients who have been treated for advanced colon cancer, and that is an exciting finding.

Then the counterclaim:

Do I think that (artificial sweeteners like) Nutrasweet or Stevia actually have an anti-cancer effect? I do not.

Hey, somebody should get these two people in a room together and have them go at it! That would be quite a story, no?

Actually, it won’t be difficult at all to get these two people together.

The first quote above (“Our study clearly shows they help avoid cancer recurrence and death . . .”) is from Charles Fuchs MD, MPH (Director, Yale Cancer Center).

And the second, much more skeptical quote, that one’s from . . . Charles Fuchs MD, MPH (Director, Yale Cancer Center).

Wow! Who’d’a thunk that this one little medical center employs two guys named Charles Fuchs who hold the exact same job???

Full story is in this news article from Michael Joyce (sent to us by Paul Alper).

So . . . if you’re recovering from cancer treatment, should you run out to the store and load up on Tab and Fresca? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on which Charles Fuchs you talk to, I suppose.


  1. John S. says:

    In the video he explains himself: he thinks it’s because of a substitution effect. A patient who drinks an artificially sweetened drink is avoiding the consumption of 39 grams of sugar. Drinking tap water might be a better alternative.

  2. Dieter Menne says:

    The publication ends with: ” Further studies are needed to confirm these findings.”. This boilderplate sentence should lead to an immediate rejection by a reviewer. Has anyone ever written “Further studies are required to show that these findings are bogus”?

    How many times have I been asked by writers of medical papers “How many additional patients do I need to proof my findings”?

  3. Terry says:

    “Does diet soda stop cancer? Two Yale Cancer Center docs have diametrically opposite views!”

    So you’re saying there’s a fifty-fifty chance diet soda stops cancer.

    We should institute a nationwide campaign immediately! Think of all the lives we could save. Sure, its not for certain, but why take a chance?

    • David L. says:

      Am I paranoid, or has there been an uptick in low-cal sweeteners are bad for you articles recently? It really smells like there’s a big sugar/soda-pop industry FUD push under way.

      I wrote a snarky reply to one such article* and it’s still up.


      (IMHO, the low-cal sweeteners can’t possibly be as bad for you as sugar.)

      • Terry says:

        These health studies are a good example of Andrew’s piranha principle. If they were all true, we could live to be 300 years old.

        In fact, you could illustrate the piranha principle numerically with health studies. Look at a large number of studies, quantify the implied extension of life-expectancy of each, and add them together.

        With priming studies, it is hard to quantify the piranha principle because the results are nebulous and non-additive (walking faster after being primed with old-people stimuli isn’t additive to the benefits of power posing), but in health studies they are quantifiable and (with some generous assumptions) additive.

  4. Kyle C says:

    I am a broken record on this, but this was just one more nutrition study suggesting that — voila! — the healthy thing to do in America is what rich people claim they do, when you survey them about it. (Drink diet soda, drink one glass of red wine a day [no more than one! no beer, no hard stuff], limit red meat, exercise daily, etc., etc.). They aaaalllll do. I wonder why?

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