bad habits

Lady Who Drank Nothing But Soda for 16 Years Not Doing So Well

Photo: Ramin Talaie/Corbis

In every office, every sorority, every gathering of post-industrial white-collar Westerners, there is a tribe of Diet Coke fiends. Our most visible members are female. We tend to be type A overachievers and controlling about caloric intake — the kind of women to whom Diet Coke spokesperson Taylor Swift might appeal. Our allegiance to our beverage of choice is strong. We carry Diet Coke in our purses. We know the chemical-taste hierarchy of artificial sweeteners. (Aspartame purists resort to Diet Pepsi before stooping to Coke Zero.) We recognize our kind when we see each other stocking up at the bodega. We share tips about convenience stores with steady Diet Coke supplies, and those with lower prices. When the office vending machine runs out of Diet Coke, we riot.

We are not safe.

Diet Coke fiends worldwide are reeling today at the discovery of a woman who drank nothing but cola soda for sixteen years (our hero!) in Monaco (ooh la la) who is now suffering from heart problems (oh shit).

Based on findings presented at a medical conference in Athens, Live Science reports that the 31-year-old woman “did not have a family history of heart or hormone problems. But she told her doctors that, since the age of 15, she had not drunk any water — soda (specifically cola) was the only liquid she consumed. She drank about 2 liters (2 quarts) of cola daily, she said.”

Now, we do not know what type of cola soda this woman was drinking. We do not know the brand. We do not know if it was Diet. We do not know if this remarkably dedicated woman — this paragon of loyalty and/or OCD — preferred aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, fructose, or sucrose. (Translation for novices: Diet Coke, Diet Coke with Splenda, 50 percent of Coke Zero, Coca-Cola in America, and Coca-Cola in Mexico.) But like the New Zealand woman who allegedly died from Coca-Cola addiction last year, hers is a cautionary tale. Puberty-onset cola soda addiction may be pleasurable, but also dangerous.

Luckily the news is not all bad. “After abstaining from soda for just one week, the woman’s potassium levels and heart electrical activity returned to normal,” Live Science writes. The findings have not yet appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, but maybe consider taking a week off to drink some water once your Diet Coke diet reaches its fifteenth-year anniversary anyway.

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The Lady Who Drank Nothing But Soda for 16 Years