You might feel like you’re doing your body a favor when you opt for diet soda instead of regular, but unfortunately, new research shows otherwise. Having two or more of any kind of artificially sweetened drink per day is linked to to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and even early death, according to a new study published in the journal Stroke.
The American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association (ASA) teamed up to study data from nearly 82,000 women ages 50 to 79. They found that while only 5.1% of participants actually drank two or more artificially sweetened beverages per day, that group had a 23% higher risk of stroke and a 29% higher risk of heart disease over a nearly 12-year study period compared to women who rarely or never had diet drinks. The high-risk group was also found to be 16% more likely to die from any cause whatsoever.
Two-a-day diet-beverage drinkers who had no previous heart disease or diabetes were 2.44 times more likely to have a stroke caused by a blood clot than women without previous conditions who drank little to no diet beverages. That number spiked to 3.93 times for African-American women but dipped to 2.03 for obese women.
The authors pointed out that the study shows only an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship, between drinking artificially sweetened beverages (aka sodas, fruit juices, teas, and more) and increased health risks.