Researchers found that women who consume a lot of artificially sweetened beverages increase their risk for stroke by 23 percent.
Two Diet Sodas Daily Linked To Increased Stroke Risk
In the study, Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and colleagues looked at 12 years' worth of healthy data of 81,714 women who were 50 years of age and older.
They compared women who consumed two diet sodas or fruit drinks every day and those who drank those beverages less than once per week or not at all.
Wassertheil-Smoller found that women who drink at least two diet beverages daily have 23 percent higher risk for stroke and 31 percent increased risk for ischemic stroke, which is caused by a clot.
Of these high diet soda consumers, those who were obese and had no history of stroke risk factors such as diabetes and heart disease were found to have twice the risk of suffering from stroke caused by a clot. The risk was four times higher in African-American women.
The researchers also found the high consumers of diet drinks were 29 percent more likely to develop heart disease, and 16 percent more likely to die from any cause, compared with their counterparts who consumed lesser amount of diet drinks.
"In this study of well-characterized postmenopausal women in the United States, self-reported consumption of ASBs was associated with increased risk of ischemic stroke, CHD, and all-cause mortality," the researchers wrote in their study, which was published Feb. 14 in Stroke, a journal of the American Heart Association.
Study Does Not Prove Cause And Effect Relationship
The researchers said the study is observational and does not prove a causal relationship. Nonetheless, consumers may want to consider reducing their consumption of diet drinks.
"Our study should not put women in a panic if they consume a diet soda only occasionally," Wassertheil-Smoller said. "But it is prudent to try to wean oneself off these drinks. The excess risks of high consumption of artificially sweetened beverages are relative to no or small consumption. The actual absolute risks to any one individual are still small."