It's always something!
Have you ever tried to limit the damage of your favorite alcoholic mixed drink by having it with DIET soda? Maybe a Rum and Diet Coke? It's not much, but it is at least a nod in the general direction of healthy living.
Well, along come the scientists and spoil our fun again. According to a new study about to be published in the scientific journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, drinkers who mixed with diet soda consistently had breath alcohols that were 18% higher than drinkers who had regular sugary mixers.
The scientists had 16 subjects drink a series of different mixed drinks, some with diet and some with regular soda. The experiment was conducted over several days, so that the same individuals sometimes had diet and sometimes had regular.
The result was that the diet drinkers averaged a breath test reading of .091 (over the legal limit) while the sugary drinkers tested at an average of .077 (under the legal limit). The drinkers were asked how subjectively impaired they felt, and there was no difference between the groups. And there was no blood testing done on the subjects.
Blood testing is much more accurate in measuring alcohol levels, so the diet-regular distinction may be limited to breath testing. Of course, since most jurisdictions test breath instead of blood, artificially raising the breath test results will create problems for many drinking drivers, even if their blood alcohols are within legal limits.
The researchers speculated that the results might have something to do with the way the body breaks down sugars, but at this point, there is much more research to be done.