Drinkers who commonly mix alcohol with a diet drink are more likely to suffer inebriation according to new research by the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Researchers conducted studies developed to test the level of intoxication when alcohol is mixed with diet drinkers. The excerpt below was taken from www.cbc.ca and explains the research and its findings:
When researchers had 16 men and women come to a lab three times for different doses of vodka, sweetened and diet pop or a placebo in a random order, they found that consuming alcohol with a diet mixer resulted in 18 per cent higher breath alcohol concentration compared with having the same amount with a sweetened mixer.
“Many people probably chose to mix their alcohol with diet mixers, because they’re concerned about the number of calories they’re consuming,” study author Cecile Marczinski of Northern Kentucky University in Heighland Heights, Ky., said in an interview with CBC News.
“But really having a higher blood alcohol concentration is much more harmful to your body,” in terms of potential damage of the brain, liver and risk for alcoholism.
For the study published in this week’s online issue of the journal Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research, Marczinski and colleague Amy Stamates measured the volunteers’ breath alcohol concentrations and had them do computerized tests measuring response time and error rates like those of a driver who has decide to hit the gas or brake, they also found higher rates of impairment with the diet mixers.
According to researchers the stomach recognises sugary mixers like it does food therefore because diet drinks have little or no sugar, the drink is digested and absorbed faster, causing intoxication. The effect is similar to that of drinking on an empty stomach because there is no sugar to slow down the process.
All the participants who had alcohol mixed with diet mixers demonstrated blood alcohol levels above 0.08, well above the legal limit in that country. However they all demonstrated the same willingness to drive regardless of their intoxication. All the participants appeared to be unaware of the difference in their breath alcohol levels.
Researchers have warned that consumers need to be made aware about these elevations in breath alcohol concentration in order to safe guard themselves and avoid risky behaviour such as driving.
Consumers that drink and drive should be aware that if they consume alcohol and diet mixers they may go over the legal limit and this could have severe implications for them. Women in particular are more fond of mixing alcohol with diet drinks especially when out at clubs and bars and so they may be the most vulnerable to this phenomenon.
Although almost everyone who drinks is aware of the effects of drinking on an empty stomach, they need to also be made aware of how diet drinks containing artificial sweeteners increase the risk of intoxication.