Although most people fall the clever advertising of diet snacks and diet drinks, these come with a price. The thing is, just because something is promoted as “healthy”, “natural”, or “sugar-free,” it doesn’t mean it’s safe for consumption.
Diet Soda And Heart Disease
The greatest marketing trick used for diet soda is that it’s a healthier variant to regular soda because it packs fewer calories. But, consumers are not told everything about this product.
There’s no question diet soda is one of the most popular drinks worldwide. Only in the US, one in five Americans drinks diet soda on a regular daily basis.
This was the starting point for Dr. Ankur Vyas’ research; Dr. Ankur Vyas is a cardiovascular specialist at the Univesity of Iowa Health Care Hospitals and Clinics.
What he was particularly interested in was the lack of data relating to the health effects diet sodas incur in consumers. His specific focus was on cardiovascular health of consumers.
The study concluded that people who drank “two or more cans of diet soda a day were 30% more likely to have a cardiovascular event (e.g. heart attack) and 50% more likely to die of a heart-related disease than someone who drank none.”
In the words of Dr. Vyas, “This is one of the largest studies on this topic, and our findings are consistent with some previous data, especially those linking diet drinks to the metabolic syndrome.”
Dr. Vyas and his team observed 60,000 postmenopausal women during a 9-year study at the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study.
The study subjects were first asked to record their consumption of 12-ounce diet sodas and fruit drinks for a period of 3 months.
Then, the participants were divided into 4 groups:
- 2 or more drinks a day
- 5-7 drinks per week
- 1-4 drinks per week
- 0-3 drinks per month
Almost 9 years later, their health records were examined so as to show their history of disease and medical interventions.
The records showed:
- Coronary heart disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Heart attack
- Coronary revascularization procedure
- Ischemic stroke
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Cardiovascular death
The results showed that 8.5% of the women who drank 2 or more diet drinks on a daily basis had one or more interventions during the study. This compares to 6.9% in the 5-7 diet drinks per week group, 6.8% in the 1-4 drinks per week group, and 7.2% in the 0-3 per month group.
Another important thing is that the participants in the 2 or more a day group were much younger and had higher BMIs than subjects in the other groups. This implies that the diet soda was triggering health issues in these women at a higher rate. These women were also more susceptible to diabetes and hypertension.
Even though the study findings were alarming, the research team hasn’t released official conclusion.
As Dr. Vyas explained, “Based on these and other findings we have a responsibility to do more research to see what is going on and further define the relationship. This could have major public health implications.”
A different study was carried out by the University of Miami and Columbia University researchers in 2012. The 10-year study observed 2,500 New Yorkers over 40 who had never had a stroke before the trial. As with the previous study, the subjects were asked to record their soda intake. They were also asked to report on health matters, hospitalizations, and new medications once a year during a phone interview.
At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that those who drank diet soda regularly were at a much higher risk of a stroke or heart attack. They were also more prone to hypertension, higher blood sugar and larger waistlines than their regular soda-drinking counterparts.
And, that’s not all. Those who drank it on a regular daily basis were 36% more likely to develop metabolic syndrome and had a 67% higher risk of developing diabetes.
On the other hand, participants who drank regular soda were more inclined to smoking and eating more carbohydrates. Nevertheless, they were less likely to develop diabetes or high blood cholesterol.
The study concluded that soda consumption, both diet and regular, was an equal risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Some of the major contributors to these life-threatening conditions include aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose – the artificial sweeteners commonly used in diet products.