Does diet soda increase risk of stroke?

Laura Donovan Contributor
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Here’s one reason to choose sugar-loaded, high-calorie soda over its diet version: Diet soda could contribute to stroke risk, reports Time Magazine.

A new study, which surveyed 2,564 people, found that habitual diet soda drinkers could be at a higher risk of stroke. By the end of the nine-year study follow-up, 559 participants had suffered some type of vascular event, including 221 strokes, 149 heart attacks and 338 total deaths.

“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,” Hannah Gardener, lead author and epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami, Fla., said in a statement.

The study divided participants up into different groups based on their levels of soda consumption. The groups included non-soda drinkers, those who drank regular soda, those who drank soda moderately or every day, and people who drank diet soda, either every day or moderately.

Researchers added, however, that more investigation would be necessary before they’d feel comfortable recommending patients to stop drinking soda. Researchers also recognized that relying on the study participants’ self-reported dietary activity was a major limitation to the research.

Survey participants addressed their soda-drinking habits only at the beginning of the study, so their habits and behavior may have changed considerably by the end of it. Additionally, researchers didn’t gather data on family history of stroke or measure long-term shifts in participants’ weight.