Diet drinks could increase stroke and heart disease risk, study finds


Dr. Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, lead author of the study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York said: "Many well-meaning people, especially those who are overweight or obese, drink low-calorie sweetened drinks to cut calories in their diet".

After an average followup of almost 12 years, the scientists found that women who drank two or more artificially sweetened drinks a day had a 23% higher risk of having any type of stroke, and a 31% increased risk of having a stroke due to clotting in brain blood vessels, compared to women who reporting drinking fewer than one beverage a week (or none at all).

But it states that water is the best choice for a no-calorie drink.

Investigators tracked the general health of all the enrollees for an average of almost 12 years.

There has been research showing a link between the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages and stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and a slew of other health problems. At their three-year evaluation, the women reported how often in the previous three months they had consumed diet drinks such as low calorie, artificially sweetened colas, sodas and fruit drinks.

The researchers did not take note of which brands of artificially sweetened drinks the women drank, and so did not know which artificial sweeteners were being consumed.

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Research shows that consuming just two diet drinks or artificially sweetened drinks per day can raise the risk of stroke by a quarter (23 percent) and risk of heart disease by a third (29 percent). Obese women without previous heart disease or diabetes were two times more likely to have a clot-induced stroke, according to the study published in the journal Stroke. These results in postmenopausal women may not be generalizable to men or younger women.

The findings were published online February 14 in the journal Stroke.

That said, almost two-thirds of the women consumed diet sodas or drinks very infrequently, meaning less than once a week or never. But for now Sandon offered simple advice: diet or regular, sodas offer no nutritional value other than calories.

Artificially sweetened drinks led to a higher risk of clot strokes and cardiac arrest in women over 50 years old.

A group representing the artificial sweetener industry offered another caveat about the findings - that many women who drink diet drinks are already struggling with weight issues.

The news follows the American Heart Association's warning that there is not enough scientific research to say for certain that low-calorie drinks don't affect a person's risk of heart disease.