Diet soda could increase risk for heart attack and stroke

Posted on Feb 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

February 9th, 2011 @ 11:32am

By Becky Bruce

SALT LAKE CITY — New research out Wednesday suggests drinking a lot of diet soda could increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke.

The study, unveiled at the American Stroke Association’s annual conference at Columbia University, looked at more than 2,500 people, all part of the long-term Northern Manhattan Study. Over more than nine years, participants tracked their soda consumption. 163 of them drank one or more diet sodas per day. Just over 900 drank no soda at all. They also provided information such as their age, sex, ethnic background, smoking, exercise and other factors – such as calorie intake and family history.

“Drinking a ton of diet soda every day will increase your sodium intake, no doubt about it, and that will increase your risk for stroke.” — Jennifer Merback, American Heart Association in UtahThe research didn’t determine cause and effect, just the association. Diet soda drinkers had a 61% higher risk for a cardiovascular event such as stroke or heart attack than the non-soda drinkers.

Jennifer Merback, Communications and Marketing Director for the American Heart Association in Utah, says sodium content could be one impact from drinking diet soda (and regular soda, too).

“Drinking a ton of diet soda every day will increase your sodium intake, no doubt about it, and that will increase your risk for stroke,” Merback said.

While many diet sodas had similar sodium content to their regular soda counterparts, some had more, and both obviously have more sodium than one is going to get from drinking only water.

Facebook User Comment”Great 🙁 with all the diet cherry Pepsi I drink, I’m probly going to die in the next 10 min…..” — Christopher Potvin

Comment on Facebook Sodium intake has long been linked to risk for cardiovascular disease, whether it’s ingested in food or drink. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 1.500 milligrams of sodium daily.

But some also theorize there could be other factors – for example, if someone is drinking diet soda to compensate for other bad habits in their diet, which is something the researchers did not study.

Merback says moderation is a good idea with diet soda as with anything else, and she’s sure more research will be done.

“We look at this as one study, but it’s not definitive.” — Jennifer Merback, American Heart Association in Utah”The American Heart Association has actually said that we will continue to review the science in diet soda consumption, and refine our policy strategies as needed,” Merback said. “We look at this as one study, but it’s not definitive.”

She points out sodium is popping up in lots of places where people may not expect to find it.

“There’s sodium in lots of things, especially all the processed food that we consume. For example, say you’re having a frozen entree. Check the sodium content beforehand because there might be more than you think, and you need to be careful with that.”

Researchers have previously linked drinking regular or diet soda to diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a factor believed to lead to diabetes.