A new study suggests that diet soda puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. Hannah Gardener is an epidemiologist at the University of Miami. She and her colleagues studied the diet and exercise habits of 2,500 people over nine years.
They were quizzed about their smoking and alcohol use, and given physicals to measure their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The result: After the researchers accounted for risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure, the people who drank diet soda every day had a 61 percent higher risk of heart attack and stroke, but the researchers found no increased risk among volunteers who drank regular soda.
So, does this mean there’s something in diet soda that damages your blood vessels? Our epidemiologist says no one knows the answer to that question yet, but ingredients in the soda may not be the reason. He says it’s possible that diet drinkers replace those saved sugar calories with sugary foods. Or, it may be the Big Mac and large fries diet lovers have with their diet soda, which tacks on over 1,000 calories, and most of the recommended daily limit of fat in your diet.
Though previous studies found a link between the dark caramel-coloring in colas and vascular problems, experts aren’t ready to tell you to stop drinking diet just because of these new findings, unless you’re already at risk for heart problems. Dr. Tudor Jovin is a director at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He says you definitely should cut back on the diet soda if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol. or if you smoke, or have a family history of heart disease.