Drinking diet soda may help you avoid cavities and calories, but it may take a toll on your health. So say researchers at the University of Miami after studying 2,564 people. The Miami scientists found that drinking diet soda daily increases the risk of stroke or another vascular event by 61 percent over a nine-year period.
The bad news for diet soda drinkers stems from research gleaned in the large, multi-ethnic Northern Manhattan Study, a collaboration of investigators at Columbia University in New York and Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.
Researchers accounted for participants’ age, sex, race or ethnicity, smoking status, exercise habits, alcohol consumption, and daily caloric intake. And even after they took into account subjects’ metabolisms, and peripheral vascular and heart disease history, diet soda drinkers still had a 48 percent higher risk than people who drank no soda (whether diet or regular).
The findings are not necessarily proof that diet soda caused the increased stroke risk, say researchers. It’s possible that people who drink soda are also likely to have lousy diets, for example.
Still, the results should prompt people to consider giving up the nutritionally useless soda altogether, says Dr. Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami. “I’m a big fan of water,” Dr. Gardener told CBS News.