Diet Soda's not so Heart Healthy

Diet soda drink consumption linked to increased heart risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Drinking diet soda lowers your daily calorie intake compared to regular soda, but drinking excessive amounts can negatively impact your health. Gulping down diet soft drinks too often could put you at an added risk for a stroke or heart attack.

While those who drink diet sodas daily appear to be at an added risk, those who consume diet soft drinks moderately or who drink regular soda do not appear to be at a heightened heart risk.

"Consume diet drinks in moderation."

Hannah Gardener, a lead researcher and epidemiologist from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, initiated the study to determine whether drinking diet soda is a healthy long-term choice.

Artificially-sweetened diet soda, which is lower in calories, has long been marketed as a healthier option than regular soft drinks sweetened with sugar.

Researchers analyzed data from a National Institutes of Health-funded study designed to determine the incidence and risk factors for stroke in a multi-ethnic urban population. There were 2,564 participants in that study.

Part of the study examined how often participants drank diet or regular diet and noted the number of heart events, including heart attack and stroke, that occurred during a 10-year period.

They discovered that those who drank diet soda daily, consuming at least seven a week, were 43 percent more likely to suffer a heart event as compared to those who did not drink diet soda after adjustments were made for pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

Those who drank diet soda less often, consuming between one a month and six a week, and those who drank regular soft drinks were not found to be at a higher risk of heart events.

"Our results suggest a potential association between daily diet soft drink consumption and vascular outcomes. However, the mechanisms by which soft drinks may affect vascular events are unclear. There is a need for further research before any conclusions can be drawn regarding the potential health consequences of diet soft drink consumption," Gardner noted.

The research was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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Review Date: 
January 31, 2012
Last Updated:
January 31, 2012