Diet Sodas and Juices Are Linked to Higher Stroke Risk, Study Says

Diet Sodas and Juices Are Linked to Higher Stroke Risk, Study Says

Post-menopausal women who drink two or more diet beverages containing artificial sweetners a day appear to be at higher risk of strokes and heart disease compared with women who have less than one drink a week, scientists said on Thursday.

"The contribution of reverse causality, meaning that individuals already at a greater risk of stroke and cardiovascular events chose low-calorie sweetened beverages, is very likely the cause of the associations presented by these researchers", the council added in a statement.

Furthermore, stroke risks more than doubled in women without previous heart disease or diabetes and obese women without previous heart disease or diabetes, findings revealed. Just something to be aware of.

Blocked arteries were often the main culprit, with heavy diet drink consumption linked to a 31 percent greater risk for an ischemic stroke, which is triggered by a clot, the study findings showed.

Those same women are also 29 percent more likely to have heart disease and 16 percent more likely to die from another cause, it was noted.

Researchers tracked 81,714 post-menopausal women (aged 50 to 79 at the start of the study) for an average of 12 years.

But they may not realize the "diet" drinks are putting their health at risk.

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The study found that women who were obese were especially at risk of a stroke, even if they didn't have a history of heart disease.

And African-American women also had a higher risk of stroke.

The authors stressed that the study found a link but could not prove that diet drinks cause stroke and heart problems.

"We don't know specifically what types of artificially sweetened beverages they were consuming, so we don't know which artificial sweeteners may be harmful and which may be harmless", Mossavar-Rahmani said.

That increased risk is particularly concerning, since most of these strokes were in smaller blood vessels in the brain, says Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, associate professor of clinical epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who led the study.

Professor Rachel Johnson, of the University of Vermont, said "limiting use" of diet drinks was "the most prudent thing to do for your health".

"If they replace other drinks, such as milk and 100 percent fruit or vegetable drinks, then these women miss out on valuable nutrition for protecting the heart and vascular system", Sandon warned. The Association recognizes diet drinks may help replace high calorie, sugary beverages, but recommends water (plain, carbonated and unsweetened flavored) as the best choice for a no calorie drink.

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