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The main benefit of diet soda drinks is that they have less calories. But new research may have diet soda drinkers rethinking their favorite diet beverages.
According to a new study, daily drinkers of diet soda have a 61 percent greater chance of stroke and heart attacks. Drinking regular or diet soda has previously been linked to diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes.
The study, which was released at the American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles, was conducted by Hannah Gardener of the University of Miami and a team of researchers.
The researchers compiled data from 2,564 multi-ethnic people based in Northern Manhattan. Researchers surveyed their eating behaviors, exercise habits, as well as cigarette and alcohol consumption. The participants reported an average soda consumption of more than 9.3 years. While 901 participants reported drinking no soda, 163 said they drank one or more diet sodas per day.
Also, volunteers were given physical check-ups that included blood pressure checks, blood tests for cholesterol and other factors that might affect the risk for heart attack and stroke.
Dr. Ralph Sacco, chair of neurology at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine and senior author on the report, said, "As a first step, we just looked at total calories. It's a work in progress. I think we need confirmation in other larger data sets. We find this intriguing but it requires follow-up."
"This paper should be a wake-up call to daily soda drinkers to stop the 'chemical water' and move to natural, calorie-free beverages, like good old tap water," said Dr. Peter McCullough, consultant cardiologist and chief academic and scientific officer for St. John Providence Health System and the Providence Park Heart Institute in Southfield, Michigan. "Any way you slice it, soda drinking is not healthy and should be done sparingly."