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Why Diet Sodas are Linked to Heart Disease, Death

Teresa Tanoos's picture
New study finds diet sodas can increase risk for heart disease

A new study published today says that drinking more than one diet soda a day may significantly increase the risk of developing heart disease and even death.

The study found that women who consumed more than two or more diet sodas per day had a 30 percent greater chance of suffering a heart attack or other cardiovascular event. Worse yet, half of these women were more likely to die, compared with women who rarely consume diet sodas.

Researchers presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, suggesting that it’s not the diet soda that’s the problem, but the amount consumed that is – because people tend to drink diet sodas to make up for other unhealthy habits.

Study leader Dr. Ankur Vyas, a cardiovascular disease expert at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinic, said that their findings suggest a link between drinking too much diet soda and mortality, although he added that the risk is not an “extreme” one.

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Previous studies have demonstrated that diet drinks do not necessarily help people lose weight, although artificially sweetened sodas are better than their sugary counterparts.

For this current study, the researchers examined nearly 60,000 middle-aged female participants involved in a 10-year study on women’s health. These women also completed a questionnaire that asked them questions related to food and drinks, as well as detailed questions about diet drinks, including diet soda and diet fruit drinks.

Almost nine years into the study, the researchers followed up on the female participants to find out how they were health-wise. As s result, they discovered that 8.5 percent of the participants who drank two or more diet drinks per day had developed heart problems, compared with 6.8 percent of the women who consumed only four or less diet drinks per week and 7.2 percent who rarely, if ever, drank diet beverages.

The researchers also reported that the women who drank the most diet beverages were also more likely to smoke, be overweight and have high blood pressure and/or diabetes.

According to federal survey data, approximately one in five Americans drink diet beverages every day, and because heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in the United States, cutting back on the consumption of diet drinks may be wise, especially for women who already have risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

SOURCE: American College of Cardiology, Cardio Source - Press Release: Too Many Diet Drinks May Spell Heart Trouble for Older Women, March 29, 2014.



This article and its title are misleading and dramatic. The author of this study states themselves that they found only an association and cannot say that diet soda is linked to heart disease in post-menopausal women. The article does mention that this population was found more likely to smoke, be overweight, have diabetes, and or have high blood pressure. However it completes glosses over that these are known contributors to heart disease and goes straight for the diet soda. Diet soda in itself has plenty of research backing its safety in a heart healthy diet and this study hardly contradicts those findings. I am a registered dietitian and rep of the Calorie Control Council that recommends diet soda for people that enjoy soda but are trying to manage weight, blood sugar, and/or general health.