Eric BlairAugust 12th
2019

A new study has revealed that, far from being the ‘healthier choice’, diet versions of fizzy drinks could be linked to a collection of rather unpleasant health problems. 

Recently published research seems to show that the consumption of two or more cans a day of diet drinks can lead to increased risk of heart disease (a third) strokes (a quarter) and even dementia.

And all this adds up. The risk of early death, when compared with people who never drink diet drinks, is 16% higher for people who do.

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The findings, based on a study of women, were published in the journal Stroke, and showed that people who are both classified as obese and downing diet drinks are doubling their risk of stroke.

The lead author of the study, Dr Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, said that although the study does suggest a link to developing conditions, they can’t be certain if they’re a direct cause without further research.

Dr Mossavar-Rahmani explained that it’s the artificial sweeteners used to replace sugar in diet drinks that seem to be at the centre of the links to health concerns. 

She said: "Many well-meaning people, especially those who are overweight or obese, drink low-calorie sweetened drinks to cut calories in their diet.

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"Our research and other observational studies have shown that artificially sweetened beverages may not be harmless and high consumption is associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease."

Another study, published in Medical News Daily, suggested that consuming sweeteners, like saccharin or aspartame, can lead to greater feelings of hunger, increase cravings for sweet things and increase appetite.

Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital found that the artificial sweeteners can heighten people’s susceptibility to give in to cravings, even leading to binge eating, which in turn is linked to higher risk of conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

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Senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, Tracy Parker, said much more research is needed on the subject. She said: "We're all too familiar with the fact that sugary drinks are not only bad for our teeth, but the excess calories can make us put on weight, increasing our risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

"Although this study rightly suggests that diet drinks don't do us any good, it's observational. This means we don't know why these drinks might be linked to an increased risk of heart and circulatory disease. To definitely understand the link between diet drinks and disease risk, more research is needed.

"But that doesn't mean you're off the hook. Put your sugary drink down and swap it for water. Your body will thank you for it."

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