The Week In WHAT?! Can Sweet Drinks Lead to Depression? Jonathan Zipper

This first full week of 2013 has been 100 shades of cray.  You’ve been so busy brushing up on the new members of congress, which of your fave flicks are getting nominated for awards, tweets about #TCA13 and the Azealia Banks/Perez Hilton feud. We get it. It’s important to be well-versed. That’s why we’re back with another edition of “The Week In WHAT?!” Consider this the maraschino cherry atop your pop culture sundae.

Who Ordered the Large Diet Soda With a Side of Depression?
Say it ain’t so! A new study suggests that all those sweet drinks you love could be turning you sour. That is, if you’re over the age of 50. After monitoring over 260,000 AARP health and diet subjects, researchers found that people who drank more than four cups of diet soda per day had a 30% higher rate of developing depression compared to people who drank only unsweetened beverages. Comparatively, regular soda drinkers only had a 22% higher rate of depression. You’re probably thinking the caffeine played a role too, but… guess again! Coffee drinkers notably received a 10% reduction on their risk of developing depression. More research is necessary to confirm any of these findings, and with so many factors at play, skepticism is only natural. So continue sipping on that Big Gulp of Diet Coke at your desk… for now.

The Bread of Frankenstein
Researchers have finally discovered a fountain of youth! Unfortunately, it’s for bread. There’s an upside for humans, though. Are you frustrated by constantly throwing away moldy loaves? Not a fan of artificial preservatives? The aptly named MicroZap Inc. says its microwave technology can keep bread mold-free for up to 60 days. Consumers participating in a taste test found no perceptible differences between the freshly baked and nuked varietals. Sound too good to be true? Well, it might be. Once you expose any doughy delights to your home environment, airborne spores could still lead to a mold outbreak. Too bad. This almost sounded like the best thing since… eh, you get the point.

The Ballad of the Germaphobic Wasp
If you’re about to eat or have recently eaten, you may want to save this one for later. It turns out that parasitic emerald cockroach wasps could hold a major key to disease control and prevention. These wasps attack their prey by injecting a venom that sedates cockroaches into a zombie-like state. As this insectual episode of “The Walking Dead” plays out, the wasp then lays its larvae inside the roach. The larvae secrete antimicrobial compounds to protect themselves from the cockroach’s internal bacteria. Once born, the larval wasps use similar compounds to sterilize food from the inside out further preventing bacterial infections. Scientists could use the insects as a resource in the future development of products to help fight disease in humans. No word on how they’ll help you cope with the current state of nausea you’re experiencing. Hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Dolphins Are the New Elephants
This rare and breathtaking site happened twice in the same weekend… in the same area. Fortunately, it was all caught on camera. Enjoy!

And there you have this week in “WHAT?!” Can’t wait to see what’s in store for humanity next!

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  1. Thanks for the comment, Rachel. This series is meant to be a discussion starter on some interesting items (not all necessarily science related) that readers may have missed from the week, so thank you for getting the ball rolling on that end as well. I always link back to a source article for each item so that readers can find out more information about a particular story with ease. In the case of the sweetened drinks study, which (as mentioned) was about the *potentially* elevated risk certain beverages (both diet and regular) *might* pose, I completely agree with your skepticism of the statistics — as do some researchers quoted in the linked article.

    Jonathan Zipper | 1/12/2013 09:01 am
  2. Thanks Jonathan for keeping me in the amazingly badass things that scientists have found this week loop. This is just a quick heads up, and I really don’t want it to come across as me being a dick. I just know that a lot of young women read this… I send young women I mentor here… and I’ve notice this happening a lot lately. (Also, sorry for any grammar and spelling errors, I’m writing this on my phone and know that I am terrible when I write on my phone) When a study says that something is correlated, it does not at all mean that it is caused by that phenomenon, just that the two are related. In the diet soda study, diet soda was correlated to higher depression in 30%. That does not mean that it caused depression… it just means that drinking diet soda was related to depression. And if you think about it, people who drink diet soft drinks are more likely to have body issues (which lead to depression), health issues (which lead to depression), and be woman (who are more prone to admitting when that have experienced depression than men). There are potentially a ton of factors related to drinking diet soft drinks that are also related to depression. They are definitely correlated, and that is incredibly interesting, but I don’t think rigorous science would hold up to say that diet coke causes depression.
    I know you are probably thinking, why does this matter? But I think it really does. For a couple reasons. First, the world throws a lot of statistics and percentages at people everyday, and so often it is not to enlighten, but to alarm. I think it is so important that people recognize, and at least kind of understand, how statistics work so that they are less manipulated by politicians, business, and even teachers and doctors who would use statistics to alarm individuals rather individuals than inform them. Second, I believe now more than ever it is important to teach people. especially young woman, to be critical consumers of information. I am 27, and I feel myself being emotionally pulled into almost believing information everyday that I know is wrong based on the way it is presented to manipulate me into believing. If i had never been taught how the scientific process works, or marketing works, or human psychology works, I know that I would be completely screwed. And I think it is important to remember that a lot of hellogiggles readers have yet learned about these things.
    I really hope you don’t feel like i’ve been a jackass and if you have any questions or comments or just want to tell me to get bent you can find me on twitter @rachelleetweets and DM for an email address. Have a great day, and thanks again for this article! ~Rach

    • Thanks for the comment, Rachel. This series is meant to be a discussion starter on some interesting items (not all necessarily science related) that readers may have missed from the week, so thank you for getting the ball rolling on that end as well. I always link back to a source article for each item so that readers can find out more information about a particular story with ease. In the case of the sweetened drinks study, which (as mentioned) was about the *potentially* elevated risk certain beverages (both diet and regular) *might* pose, I completely agree with your skepticism of the statistics — as do some researchers quoted in the linked article.

      Jonathan Zipper | 1/12/2013 09:01 am