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Can Diet Soda Really Cause a Heart Attack or Stroke

By Angie McGowan |

There has been a new study that suggests those who drink large amounts of diet soda can have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. However, this is not definitive yet, the study that was just conducted is meant to raise concern and hopefully encourage more research on this topic. So how can diet soda possibly cause an increase in such serious health conditions? Many health care professionals and scientists have different theories on the topic. One of those is that the artificial sweetener in diet soda signals to your brain that calories are coming, and when your stomach doesn’t get calories, you crave more soda and other forms of sweets. So artificial sweeteners make you eat and drink more sugar and carb containing items, in an effort to get those calories.

Another theory is that artificial sweeteners somehow reset your taste-buds. It is thought by some that eating or drinking artificial sweeteners resets your taste-buds, making sweet things actually taste less sweet than they actually are. Therefore, people who have “reset taste-buds” aren’t satisfied by normally sweetened drinks and foods, they only like super sweet items.

It’s also very possible that people who drink diet soda tend to not lead as healthy lifestyles as those who drink regular soda only once in a while or not at all. But this study did take all these concerns into consideration, including race, weight and height of participants and still found diet sodas seemed to lead to heart attack and stroke.

Another theory of why diet sodas are harmful to our health is the amount of sodium they contain. The USDA has recently lowered the sodium intake recommendations for us so they more closely resemble the numbers in the U.K. Myself, I happen to agree with the sodium overload theory.

The researchers in the study could not pinpoint how, chemically, diet sodas could cause heart attack and stroke, so further research is needed to see how diet soda really affects our bodies over time.

For myself, this is enough to make me switch back to my occasional regular soda instead of diet soda, how about you? What are your thoughts?

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About Angie McGowan


Angie McGowan

Angie McGowan was a contributing blogger to Babble’s Family Kitchen, a daily food blog with recipes from her kitchen. She currently creates fun recipes for Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and many other companies. You can find more of her recipes on her personal blog, Eclectic Recipes.

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One thought on “Can Diet Soda Really Cause a Heart Attack or Stroke

  1. mtflight says:

    I think most epidemiological studies (observational, self-reported questionnaires or phone surveys) have the potential to come up with some very misleading information to the layperson who may not know the difference between good science and bad science. Correlation is NOT causation! There are so many possible factors involved that there is no way to know the true significance of these types of “preliminary studies.”

    The way it is being reported (irresponsible in many instances due to the lack of evidence and uncertainty), only causes alarm and speculation.

    On epidemiological studies (the study discussed) , not only do people have a tendency to lie a little, there is also no way to eliminate all the confounding factors (how healthy those taking the survey are, how much exercise, how strenuous, what runs in their family and what doesn’t, etc etc. ). There was a study that indicated men who shave more often have less heart disease. Does this mean we have to shave our face a few times a day or could it be that men who shave and upkeep their appearance may be more health conscious than those who don’t care about their appearance?

    The “gold standard” of scientific studies is the double-blind study where participants show up to be counseled or are themselves interns (say at a hospital or ward or volunteers) and neither they nor the clinicians that counsel them know if they are taking the offending product or a placebo. Even then one can’t cancel out confounding factors, but this is the best study. Either way, sometimes these studies are impossible, because the people in the study would taste the difference between diet and regular sodas. So we’re left with this preliminary epidemiological observational study that tells those of us who know how the studies are done, absolutely nothing practical. And, unfortunately this causes panic in the uninformed layperson community.

    I hope one day that health and science reporting is held accountable for causing this confusion to the lay public that is not aware of how preliminary and inconclusive these studies are.

    I do like the way this particular report states the title as a question rather than making a conclusive statement.

    What’s true is that 99% of a diet soda is usually water, and that <1% consists of flavoring and sweeteners. How could this be worse or the same as a drink with 20 grams of fructose? (sucrose or table sugar is a disacharide consisting of 50:50 ratio of glucose and fructose–the latter only can be metabolized by the liver, resulting in lipogenesis in pretty much the same way alcohol does).

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