Study: Daily diet drinks linked to strokes, heart attacks, and early death

Photo: eskaylim (iStock)

Bad news for those who’ve been chugging diet sodas under the belief that they’re healthier than regular sodas. CNN reports that a new study from no less an authority than the American Heart Association says that “Drinking two or more of any kind of artificially sweetened drinks a day is linked to an increased risk of clot-based strokes, heart attacks and early death in women over 50.”

The study tracked 80,000 women over more than 11 years, after asking how often they consumed diet drinks. After factoring in lifestyle elements, the study found that “women who consumed two or more artificially sweetened beverages each day were 31 percent more likely to have a clot-based stroke, 29 percent more likely to have heart disease and 16 percent more likely to die from any cause than women who drank diet beverages less than once a week or not at all.”

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Scary stuff, but the AHA cautions that the study only points to observational connections between diet drinks and these outcomes, not a causal relationship. As lead study author Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, an associate professor of clinical epidemiology and population health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, ponders: “What is it about these diet drinks? Is it something about the sweeteners? Are they doing something to our gut health and metabolism? These are questions we need answered.” But if you think your problems will be solved by turning away from artificial sweeteners, a report on a study a few months ago by the British Medical Journal pointed to the connection between sugar-filled sodas and the development of diabetes.

May we suggest a refreshing seltzer water? If anyone comes up with a study that points to the danger of carbonation, though, we’re in big trouble.

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About the author

Gwen Ihnat

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.