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Diet Soda A Day Linked With Higher Risk Of Stroke, Heart Attack

Diet Soda Stroke Heart Attack

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 02/01/2012 1:04 pm Updated: 02/02/2012 2:53 pm

Here's another reason why you might want to curb that diet soda addiction.

A new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine shows that drinking diet soda every day is linked with a higher risk of stroke and heart attack.

Researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the Columbia University Medical Center examined the soda-drinking habits of 2,564 people who participated in the Northern Manhattan Study over a 10-year period.

The researchers found that people who reported drinking diet soda on a daily basis had a 43 percent higher risk of having a vascular event than people who didn't drink any soda, even when accounting for conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

However, researchers did find that people who tended to drink diet soda more occasionally -- between six a week and once a month -- and people who drank regular soda didn't have the increased risk of a vascular event.

Study researcher Hannah Gardener warned that more research is needed, but said in a statement that the "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." Gardener previously presented her findings last year at the International Stroke Conference.

Health.com reported that people who drink diet drinks -- not just soda -- don't just stop at one: They drink several of the drinks a day.

Health.com explained why people seem to be drawn to diet soda:

Although diet soda clearly isn't as addictive as a drug like nicotine, experts say the rituals that surround diet soda and the artificial sweeteners it contains can make some people psychologically -- and even physically -- dependent on it in ways that mimic more serious addictions. And unlike sugared soda, which will make you gain weight if you drink too much of it, zero-calorie soda doesn't seem to have an immediate downside that prevents people from overindulging.

Last year, a study presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting showed that drinking diet soda is linked with having a wider waistline.

"Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised," study researcher Helen P. Hazuda, Ph.D., a professor and chief of clinical epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio's School of Medicine, said in a statement. "They may be free of calories but not of consequences."

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