Diet soda increases risk for heart attack, stroke

By Shayna Brouker • Published: May 10th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Zero calories, same great taste and no sugar! Sounds too good to be true, right?

Among all the diet pitfalls and stumbling blocks, diet soda seems like the lesser of two evils when compared with full-fledged, sugar-packed pop. For those trying to lose weight, switching diet for regular soda can mark a positive step toward a healthier lifestyle.

But trading in original for artificial can take a toll on long-term health. Recent studies have shown that habitual soda drinkers, diet or otherwise, have a fifty percent increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a trifecta of dangerous symptoms like high blood pressure, a thicker waistline and low levels of “good” cholesterol.

Need another reason to quit your diet soda addiction? The latest research study found that daily diet pop-drinkers were forty-eight percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke or die from either episode, compared with those who did not.

Curiously, the nine-year study of twenty-five-hundred people found no increased risk for those who drank regular pop — but that doesn’t discount the hefty serving of sugar in one soda.

Researchers took into account cardiovascular risk factors such as age, gender and smoking habits. They also factored in amount of exercise, alcohol and calorie intake, pre-existing heart disease and metabolic syndrome. While the study does not prove cause-and-effect, it raised the questions of whether diet soda drinkers share other unhealthy behaviors that may be to blame for increasing their risk for stroke.

More research is needed to order a prohibition of diet drinks, but until then, it’s not a bad idea to call it quits on the fizz and switch to unprocessed, unsweetened, good old-fashioned water. It could be the first step of many leading to a healthier, happier you.