What follows is a guest post from a long-time friend, Larry A. Mathias. We invited him to write this after seeing him discuss it on Facebook. All our best wishes are with him.
They say “everything in moderation.” I wish I would have followed that sage advice.
Two weeks ago, one of my doctors strongly urged me to completely forego diet soft drinks. For anyone who knows me, they know that was no small request. On average, I’d drink 6-8 24-oz. bottles of Diet Pepsi a day. That started in the late 1970s when I was a late night disc jockey in college, and I didn’t like coffee. Soft drinks with caffeine became my beverage of choice. I’d start as early as 7 a.m. with a Diet Pepsi at breakfast and continue through the end of the day.
Surely, the daily volume of consumption was as much or more damaging than the ingredients.
Nevertheless, some of the damage had already occurred. In 2001, I had tightness in my chest that felt like a heart attack. After an overnight hospital stay for observation, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a condition often connected to diabetics that mirrors acid reflux. The ER doctor prescribed Prevacid, and I’ve been on that drug ever since. On the few occasions that I tried to wean myself off the drug, the acid reflux sensation returned.
Through a series of endoscopes and colonoscopies, it was discovered that I had multiple polyps – albeit all benign – in my stomach. My gastroenterology told me that new research that showed a connection between long-term use of Prevacid and the development of stomach polyps.
Lately, I’ve been experiencing trouble with my teeth and gums. Despite pretty good dental hygiene habits, several teeth are loose and ready to fall out. And of course, it appears that there’s a connection between the acidity in diet soft drinks and the elimination of the enamel in your teeth. I literally melted the bone in my teeth from the acid in the soft drinks. It also depletes the calcium in the body and could increase the risk of heart attacks.
So, for all these reasons, it is finally time for me to quit.
When I announced this to a friend whose wife recently had her own cancer scare, he told me he had seen additional research connecting diet soft drink consumption to cancer. When I got home and Googled it, I found study after study showing that link.
The irony is that two weeks into the soft drink-free journey, I have had little issues with dropping the habits. I experienced a headache after the first 24 hours that I figured was caffeine withdrawal. But since then, it’s been easy.
If I only knew then, what I know now.
Larry A. Mathias