You’re trying to get your health and diet back on track but can’t seem to quit your soda habit, so you switch to diet soda instead. Sound familiar? You reason that it must be the healthier alternative, right? Well, no, not at all. The clever marketing departments of huge soda companies would like you to believe that diet soda is a perfectly healthy option. However, the reality is that diet soda’s sugar content is replaced with an artificial sweetener known as aspartame, which has been linked to all sorts of health problems, most notably heart attacks and stroke.
The Dangers of Diet Soda
A study known as the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, conducted by Dr. Ankur Vyas, is one of the most comprehensive of its type with nearly 60,000 women participating over nine years. The research discovered that participants who drank two or more cans of diet soda a day were 30% more likely to have a cardiovascular event and 50% more likely to die of a heart-related disease than someone who drank none. Given the scale of the study and the fact that approximately one in five people in the United States consume diet drinks on a daily basis, the results could prove to be hugely significant to overall public health.
The Largest Study on the Topic
Before coming to it’s conclusions, Dr. Vayas organized the study by splitting the 59,614 participants into four groups: two or more diet drinks a day, five to seven diet drinks per week, one to four diet drinks per week, and zero to three diet drinks per month. After almost nine years the research team analyzed the health records of each woman and the results were that coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, coronary revascularization procedure, ischemic stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and cardiovascular death, occurred in 8.5% of the women consuming two or more diet drinks a day compared to 6.9% in the five-to-seven diet drinks per week group; 6.8% in the one-to-four drinks per week group; and 7.2% in the zero-to-three per month group.
Analyzing the Results
On the surface the results didn’t seem to fit the hypothesis that aspartame is one of the leading causes of heart disease; however, at a closer look the records showed that alongside the slightly higher rate of heart-related health issues, the women in the two or more a day group were, on average, significantly younger than the women in the other groups, meaning the diet sodas were causing health issues at an accelerated rate. No official conclusions can be made based on these results although it is clear that the findings are worrisome and grant further research on the topic.