Soda and Stroke

It’s no secret that people like soda. Consider that, in 2016, the US soft drink market was valued at 253.7 billion. Many people are partial to diet sodas, believing them to be a somewhat healthier alternative to non-diet soft drinks. According to a recent study, however, diet sodas might increase your risk for stroke.

Behind the Numbers

This report appeared in Stroke, a journal published by the American Heart Association. The authors reviewed data from 82,000 women, all of whom fell between the ages of 50 and 79. 

The good news is that, at least among the study participants, heavy soda consumption was fairly low; only 5.1 percent of these women reported drinking two or more artificially sweetened beverages on a daily basis. The bad news is that these heavy soda drinkers appeared to be at greater risk of serious health issues. According to this study, women who consumed two or more sweetened drinks were at 23 percent higher risk of stroke. Likewise, these subjects were 29 percent more likely to experience heart disease. 

Perhaps most alarmingly, the women in this demographic were 16 percent more at risk of dying for any reason then all other female subjects.

Buyer Beware?

Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, the study’s senior author, stated that the study should cause shoppers to question nutritional impact of diet soft drinks. “Many well-meaning people, especially those who are overweight or obese, drink low-calorie sweetened drinks to cut calories in their diet,” Mossavar-Rahmani told USA Today. “Our research and other observational studies have shown that artificially sweetened beverages may not be harmless and high consumption is associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease.”

Despite the report’s findings, the authors caution that their work does not conclusively establish a link between diet soda consumption and serious health problems. “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,” noted Mossovar-Rahmani.

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