image via inkjot.files.wordpress.com Nothing like a diet orange to wash down some barbecue spare ribs, french fries, and buttered biscuits, heh? Or a Diet Coke with your Mac & Cheese? If this sounds like your idea of saving calories, you're a lot like millions of Americans, who believe that because diet soda has no calories, it can't be bad for your diet. You're wrong.
According to a report from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, presented at the International Stroke Conference today, researchers studying the soda habits of 2,564 people in upper Manhattan found that those who drank diet soda every day had a 61 percent higher risk of stroke than those who reported no soda drinking.
The data was collected from the longitudinal Northern Manhattan Study, a collaboration between the Miller School and Columbia University. The subjects were enrolled in 2001; their average age was 69 years, 53 percent are Hispanic, 24 percent are black, and 21 percent white.
After an average follow-up of 9.3 years, 559
strokes occurred in the study population, and even accounting for other
known risk factors, such as age, sex, race or ethnicity, smoking,
exercise, alcohol consumption, and daily caloric intake, in addition to
medical history of metabolic syndrome, peripheral vascular disease, and heart disease, diet soda was still responsible for a 48 percent higher risk factor.
Medical experts contacted by ABC News were cautious about interpreting the data, saying that further studies must be conducted to further isolate diet soda from the other stroke risk factors.
“If our results are confirmed with future studies,
then it would suggest that diet soda may not be the optimal substitute for
sugar-sweetened beverages for protection against vascular outcomes,” said Hannah
Gardener, Sc.D., lead author and epidemiologist in the Department of Neurology at
the Miller School.
Previously, diet soda has been linked to increase blood pressure, risk of diabetes, preterm deliveries, and other health problems. It has not even been shown to help people lose weight.
The facts linking diet soda to increased risk of stroke may not all be in, but I don't think I'm going to be drinking one any time soon.