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Study: Drinking two or more diet sodas a day could increase risk of heart attack and stroke

Bottles of Diet Coke sit on a shelf in a market in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018.
Bottles of Diet Coke sit on a shelf in a market in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018.
Gene J. Puskar, AP

SALT LAKE CITY — A new study says you should be cautious with how many diet beverages you drink, CNN reports.

The brief:

  • Drinking two or more artificially sweetened drinks per day could lead to an increase in clot-based strokes and heart attacks, according to a new study by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.
  • The risk is 16 percent higher for those who have had diet sodas compared to those who didn't, according to the study.
  • "This is another confirmatory study showing a relationship between artificially sweetened beverages and vascular risks. While we cannot show causation, this is a yellow flag to pay attention to these findings," said American Academy of Neurology President Dr. Ralph Sacco, who was not involved in the latest study, according to CNN.

Bigger picture:

The study involved more than 80,000 postmenopausal U.S. women who were participating in the Women's Health Initiative, which is an ongoing national study. The women were asked how many 12-fluid-ounce servings of diet drinks. Then, their health was tracked for 11.9 years on average, CNN reports.

The study found women who had two or more drinks were 31 percent more likely to have a clot-based stroke, 29 percent more likely to have heart disease and 16 percent more likely to die from any cause compared to women who drank less than one diet drink a week or none at all, according to a press release on the study.

Women with no history of disease or diabetes were more at risk. African-American women and women who were obese also had a higher risk, according to the study.

The study's lead author Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, an associate professor of clinical epidemiology and population health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, told CNN this study takes a different turn compared to previous ones.

  • "Previous studies have focused on the bigger picture of cardiovascular disease," she said. "Our study focused on the most common type of stroke, ischemic stroke and its subtypes, one of which was small-vessel blockage. The other interesting thing about our study is that we looked at who is more vulnerable."

Dr. Rachel Johnson, a professor of nutrition emeritus at the University of Vermont, told the New York Post that the research on the effects other low-calorie drinks isn't extensive enough.

  • "Unfortunately, current research simply does not provide enough evidence to distinguish between the effects of different low-calorie sweeteners on heart and brain health," she said. "This study adds to the evidence that limiting use of diet beverages is the most prudent thing to do for your health."

According to the New York Post, the American Heart Association says water remains the best choice for those wanting a beverage with no calories.