Diet soda mixers may get you drunk fasterHow intoxicated you become when drinking could boil down to the simple choice of whether or not you mix diet soda or regular with your vodka or rum, a new study finds.

Men and women ages 21 to 33 who drank vodka mixed with diet soda had breath alcohol concentrations that were 18 percent higher after 40 minutes compared to those who drank the same amount of vodka mixed with regular soda.

Plus, after three or four drinks mixed with diet soda, subjects had breath alcohol levels that exceed the legal limit for driving. Those who drank regular soda in their cocktails did not.

The study, conducted by Northern Kentucky University in the US, was small: only eight men and eight women participated, attending three separate drinking sessions. But the findings do support earlier research that reached similar conclusions. A 2006 study suggests that artificial sweeteners in diet soda speed the absorption of alcohol.

Dennis L. Thombs, co-author of the latest study, noted that the stomach seems to treat sugar-sweetened beverages like food, which delays the stomach from emptying.

“The best way to think about these effects is that sugar-sweetened alcohol mixers slow down the absorption of alcohol into bloodstream,” he explains. “Artificially sweetened alcohol mixers do not really elevate alcohol intoxication. Rather, the lack of sugar simply allows the rate of alcohol absorption to occur without hindrance.”

The findings will be published in the April issue of “Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research” and are currently available online

A 2007 study found that alcohol was absorbed far more quickly when mixed with carbonated beverages when compared to flat mixers, such as orange or cranberry juices.

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