Published: Mon, February 18, 2019
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Diet drinks 'increase risk of dying young'

Diet drinks 'increase risk of dying young'

A new study could be bad news fro people who like diet soda.

In the latest look at the popular beverages, researchers found that older women who drank more diet drinks had a higher risk of stroke and heart disease, as well as a higher risk of dying early from any cause, compared to women who drank fewer of the drinks.

Their study has found that women who consumed two or more artificially sweetened beverages a day were 23 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke, 31 per cent more likely to have a stroke caused by a clot, and 29 per cent more likely to develop heart disease. The study was observational, and based on women's reports about their own consumption, so can not prove cause and effect.

Apart from this, the risk of stroke doubled in women without previous heart disease or diabetes.

Previous studies linking diet sodas to strokes and heart attacks have drawn criticism. They claim that people with heart risks such as obese people with poor diets are more likely to drink diet sodas. The association was found after drawing a comparison between women who consumed diet drinks less than once a week or not at all.

For the study, researchers included 81,714 post-menopausal women aged 50-79 years.

Women, especially obese women, seem to be at the greatest risk of suffering health complications due to their diet soda fix.

Mossavar-Rahmani is an associate professor in the department of epidemiology and population health's division of health promotion and nutrition research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York City.

"We don't know specifically what types of artificially sweetened beverages they were consuming, so we don't know which artificial sweeteners may be harmful and which may be harmless", Mossavar-Rahmani said.

However, the results in post-menopausal women may not be generalisable to men or younger women. The study is also limited by having only the women's self-report of diet drink intake. "Our study focused on the most common type of stroke, ischemic stroke and its subtypes, one of which was small-vessel blockage".

An global team of health experts, in the 2017 review in the journal PLOS Medicine, had said the absence of consistent evidence to support the role of artificially sweetened beverages in preventing weight gain and the lack of studies on other long-term effects on health "strengthen the position" that artificially sweetened beverages "should not be promoted as part of a healthy diet".

"This study adds to the evidence that limiting use of diet beverages is the most prudent thing to do for your health".

Reference Artificially Sweetened Beverages and Stroke, Coronary Heart Disease, and All-Cause Mortality in the Women's Health Initiative.

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