Diet cocktails speed up blood alcohol

Cocktail drinkers who use mixers containing artificial sweeteners may be doing themselves more harm than good.

Despite reducing total calories in the drink, a new study says artificial sweeteners lead to a high rate of alcohol absorption, resulting in a greater blood alcohol concentration.

The study was done by a team at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia, and presented this week at the Digestive Disease Week meeting in Los Angeles.

Dr. Chris Rayner, who headed the research team, said the artificial agents accelerate the emptying of the stomach.

The team studied eight healthy male volunteers. On one day, Rayner said, the subjects consumed an orange-flavored vodka drink made from alcohol and a mixer sweetened with sugar containing 478 calories. On the second day, they drank the same amount of alcohol with a diet mixer containing 225 calories.

The researchers measured the rate of stomach emptying using ultrasound technology and took blood samples at 30-minute intervals for three hours. The time to empty half of the diet drink from the stomach was 21 minutes, compared to regular drinks which took 36 minutes for the same degree of emptying.

Peak blood alcohol concentrations were substantially greater with diet drinks at an average of 0.05%, while regular drinks measured at 0.03% blood alcohol concentration.

Rayner said drinks of this type tend to be consumed at times other than meal times, when food would slow gastric emptying.

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