The Heart-Breaking Truth About Diet Soft Drinks

Diet Soft Drinks

Many women consume diet soft drinks thinking it is better for them that the sugary alternatives. But, the heart-breaking reality for those with a Diet Coke or Diet Dr Pepper habit is that the soft drinks are more unhealthy than previously thought and can even lead to heart disease.

New research conducted over a decade shows a great incidence of heart problems in post-menopausal women who regularly drink diet sodas than those who seldom partake. Those women who drank two or more diet sodas a day were 30 percent more likely to suffer from heart trouble than those who rarely drank beverages with artificial sweeteners. Nearly 9 percent of frequent soda drinkers suffered a serious heart event versus about 7 percent of women who rarely or never indulged and had a serious heart problem. The researchers also found that frequent diet soda drinkers were 50 percent more likely to die from heart disease.

The research findings were taken from an analysis of diet drink intake and health problems among the nearly 60,000 participants in the long-running U.S. Women’s Health Initiative, which is studying cardiovascular health trends among postmenopausal women. The average age of women in the diet drink portion of the study was 62.8, and they had no prior history of cardiovascular disease to be included in the analysis.

Study participants were asked to estimate how many artificially sweetened drinks (particularly diet soft drinks and low-calorie fruit beverages) they had consumed on average each day for the past three months. A drink was defined as a 12-ounce beverage.

The researchers compiled the data and then divided the women into four groups based on their overall diet drink consumption. The heaviest consumers had two or more diet drinks per day. The next group drank five to seven artificially sweetened beverages each week. The third group consumed one to four drinks per week. The last group included those who never or rarely indulged in diet drinks.

Approximately nine years later, the researchers checked to see which women had experienced heart-related problems, such as strokes; heart attacks; blood clots that threaten the limbs or organs; needed surgery to reopen clogged arteries; had heart failure; or died from heart trouble. They found that 8.5 percent of the women who drink two or more diet beverages a day had coronary problems. That compared with coronary issues experienced by 6.9 of those who consumed five to seven diet drinks each week, 6.8 percent who consumed one to four drinks a week, and 7.2 percent for the less frequent drinkers.

The researchers were quick to point out that their findings, which were presented at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, did not show that diet soft drinks created the heart problems. There was only an association between the two and other factors may really be the cause. For example, they did notice that the women who drank more diet beverages tended to be smokers, overweight, or had other risk factors.

However, other studies have shown a strong correlation between diet soft drinks and cardiovascular problems too. Earlier studies have suggested a link between heavy consumption of diet soft drinks and Type 2 diabetes as well as metabolic syndrome, which involves high blood pressure and abdominal obesity. While the actual cause-effect has yet to be proven, the heart-breaking truth for those who like to regularly consume diet soft drinks is they are not healthy.

By Dyanne Weiss

Sources:
New York Times
Reuters
NBC News
Prevention
Philly.com

3 Responses to "The Heart-Breaking Truth About Diet Soft Drinks"

  1. Deborah   March 29, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    It would be interesting to see the results when controlled for the other factors mentioned, such as smoking and BMI.

    Reply
  2. quattrone   March 29, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    It was good for you yesterday, it’s bad for you today, and it’ll be good for you again tomorrow. I tend to ignore these food studies. Wait long enough and you’ll see a report you agree with.

    Reply
    • Mea gain   March 30, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      See, the problem I find with having that mindset is, that’s how we looked at cigarettes/tobacco use from the 20’s until recently; That someday a study we agree with will come along. The biggest problem with that mentality is we as a people, look for ways to keep things that are profitable in the market, in order to keep our profits up. Like cigarettes, aspartame has been mandated as unhealthy time and time again, it was even banned twice.. but so many people consume the product it’s really hard to get it pulled off the shelves, without expecting a big profit fall for the companies who use the sweetener in their beverages.
      We can argue that moderation of the product would be good, but that is no different than saying a smoking a few cigarettes a week in good moderation, will not reap the same negative effects as being a regular smoker. As a chemical, it does leave behind trace amounts that build up over time, and our bodies are not naturally made to process them. So they eventually will show signs of declining our health, even in moderation.
      Just think about it for your health, no one is trying to just scare you, people just want others to be concerned about their health for the right reasons so they can live full and healthy lives.

      Reply

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