The Detrimental Connection Between Diet Soda and Stroke
Scientific studies have been divided when it comes to diet soda and other calorie free beverages. While some studies suggest calorie-free drinks can help people lose weight, the latest research claims that drinking these beverages can lead to hazardous health risks including stroke and dementia.
by Greg Montoya
Diet Soda Health Risks
According to new research carried out by the American Stroke Association and American Heart Association, consuming two or more diet sodas a day or other artificially sweetened drinks has been linked to an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks and premature death in women over the age 50. The study found that the risks were highest with women who were obese or African American, without a history of diabetes or heart disease. Previous studies have also shown a link between drinking diet drinks, and the effects of metabolic syndrome, dementia, diabetes and heart disease.
The Women’s Health Initiative Study
Over 80,000 postmenopausal women in the United States that participated in the long-term Women’s Health Initiative national study, were asked how frequently they consumed one 12 ounce serving of diet soda or other low calorie beverage over the preceding 3 months. The effects of the diet beverages on the participants’ health were monitored for an average of 11.9 years. The Women’s Health Initiative study was centered on ischemic stroke, the most common form of stroke and its sub-types, including small-vessel blockage. According to Mossavar-Rahmani who was involved in the research, prior studies focused on the wider scope of cardiovascular disease.
The study found that the women who consumed two or more diet sodas (and other sugar free type beverages) were 31% more prone to have a clot-based stroke. The study also found that 29% were more likely to end up with heart disease and 16% were more likely to die from other health problems than those who only consumed diet drinks once a week or not at all. The study then looked at women that didn’t have a history of diabetes and heart disease, or other health issues that are the main risk factors for stroke.
The research found that a type of stroke referred to as small artery occlusion (a result of the blockage of the tiniest arteries in the brain), was approximately 2½ times more frequent in women, regardless of weight or race, who had no diabetes or heart disease but heavily consumed diet sodas. Women that were of normal weight or somewhat overweight in the study weren’t linked to strokes.
African-American women who didn’t have a previous history of diabetes or heart problems were around 4 times more likely to end up having a clot-based cerebrovascular incident, according to Mossavar-Rahmani, however that stroke risk did not apply to Caucasian women. The risks were different for Caucasian women who were 1.3 times more likely to end up with coronary heart disease.
Are the Weight Loss Benefits worth the Risk?
While reducing sugar is crucial for optimal health, there are other ways to do it besides drinking diet beverages. Last year the American Heart Association issued an advisory stating that short-term use of diet drinks over sugary drinks could be an effective strategy when it comes to promoting weight loss in adults. Their advice is geared towards people who have trouble switching from sugary beverages to water, but for short term/minimal use.
Bottom line, there’s solid scientific evidence that consuming both sugary and sugar free drinks like diet soda are associated with detrimental health effects, including increasing the risk of developing stroke and dementia. Hence, it makes sense to eliminate intake altogether! Instead, try enhancing purified water with lemon, cucumber, mixed berries or pure cranberry juice. You’ll be surprised by how refreshing it tastes and how much better you feel.