Are diet soft drinks bad for you?

“Individuals who drink diet soft drinks on a daily basis may be at increased risk of suffering vascular events such as stroke, heart attack, and vascular death.”

Weak correlation + poor-quality exposure data + unaccounted-for confounding risk factors + “unclear” biologic mechanisms = Junk science.

The media release is below.

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Individuals who drink diet soft drinks on a daily basis may be at increased risk of suffering vascular events such as stroke, heart attack, and vascular death. This is according to a new study by Hannah Gardener and her colleagues from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and at Columbia University Medical Center. However, in contrast, they found that regular soft drink consumption and a more moderate intake of diet soft drinks do not appear to be linked to a higher risk of vascular events. The research¹ appears online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine², published by Springer.

In the current climate of escalating obesity rates, artificially sweetened soft drinks are marketed as healthier alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages, due to their lack of calories. However, the long-term health consequences of drinking diet soft drinks remain unclear.

Gardener and team examined the relationship between both diet and regular soft drink consumption and risk of stroke, myocardial infarction (or heart attack), and vascular death. Data were analyzed from 2,564 participants in the NIH-funded Northern Manhattan Study, which was designed to determine stroke incidence, risk factors and prognosis in a multi-ethnic urban population. The researchers looked at how often individuals drank soft drinks – diet and regular – and the number of vascular events that occurred over a ten-year period.

They found that those who drank diet soft drinks daily were 43 percent more likely to have suffered a vascular event than those who drank none, after taking into account pre-existing vascular conditions such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes and high blood pressure. Light diet soft drink users, i.e. those who drank between one a month and six a week, and those who chose regular soft drinks were not more likely to suffer vascular events.

Gardener concludes: “Our results suggest a potential association between daily diet soft drink consumption and vascular outcomes. However, the mechanisms by which soft drinks may affect vascular events are unclear. There is a need for further research before any conclusions can be drawn regarding the potential health consequences of diet soft drink consumption.”

References

1. Gardener H et al (2012). Diet soft drink consumption is associated with an increased risk of vascular events in the Northern Manhattan Study. Journal of General Internal Medicine. DOI 10.1007/s11606-011-1968-2

2. The Journal of General Internal Medicine is the official journal of the Society of General Internal Medicine.

16 thoughts on “Are diet soft drinks bad for you?”

  1. This is just another example of “science by press release”. Most scientific research (98% or so) is complete garbage. This is just more proof of that.

  2. The danger with these junk science scare studies that are trumpeted by the media is that, like the boy who cried wolf, people become so used to this garbge that they will not believe a real warning if it comes out. They are destroying the credibility of genuine science.

  3. “There is a need for further research before any conclusions can be drawn regarding the potential health consequences of diet soft drink consumption.”

    OooooK!!!!
    The real message is: “Give us MORE MONEY!!!!”

  4. “However, the long-term health consequences of drinking diet soft drinks remain unclear.”
    Huh? I’ve been drinking diet soft drinks for 50 years, I’m wondering what long-term means.

  5. Actually, a link between diet soft drinks and the risk of stroke, heart attack, and vascular death is very plausible. Those with valid health concerns will preferentially drink diet soft drinks, instead of conventional soft drinks, because they have become convinced that diet soft drinks are ‘healthier’. Talk to your local bartender (if he or she is willing to talk) about people who ask for rum with diet Coke. Better yet, observe those who order such beverage combinations. And that’s the tip of the iceberg.

  6. Yeah, all these “studies” seem to claim “it’s not quite clear” or “not yet fully understood” but suggest we MIGHT be “at risk” for something like death and then tell us there is a “need for further research.” All these worn out studies surface now and then but always seem to remain “not fully understood.” Somebody keeps sending them more money but what are they really doing in those research labs? $$$

  7. The holes in this conclusion are so big, that I can drive an 18 wheeler through it. Heavy diet drink consumers are most likely having serious weight problems. Thus more susceptible to stroke, heart attack, and vascular death. No brainer here.

  8. Phosphoric Acid: May interfere with the body’s ability to use calcium,
    Sugar: Soft drink manufacturers are the largest single user of refined sugar in the United States.
    Aspartame: This chemical is used as a sugar substitute in diet soda. There are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption including brain tumors, birth defects, diabetes, emotional disorders and epilepsy/seizures. Further, when aspartame is stored for long periods of time or kept in warm areas it changes to methanol, an alcohol that converts to formaldehyde and formic acid, which are known carcinogens.
    Caffeine: Caffeinated drinks can cause jitters, insomnia, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, elevated blood cholesterol levels, vitamin and mineral depletion, breast lumps, birth defects, and perhaps some forms of cancer.

    The average American drinks an estimated 56 gallons of soft drinks each year, but before you grab that next can of soda, consider this: one can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories, 30 to 55 mg of caffeine, and is loaded with artificial food colors and sulphites.
    http://www.oleda.com/oleda_tips/tips.asp?dept=48

  9. “Phosphoric Acid: May interfere with the body’s ability to use calcium,”

    May. It might cause gobloots.

  10. Your stomach is full of acid so probably the same thing happens to the eggshell if you swallow it. What coke does to an egg, a nail, or whatever you drop in it does not indicate anything other than coke dissolves nails, etc. It in no way indicates if it is good or bad to drink. It may have some bearing on what it does to your teeth, but even that is tenuous. One can come up with all kinds of interesting things food can do, including those healthy organic ones. Try putting an egg in organic fruit juice and see what happens.

  11. Just remember this one fact, folks; EVERYONE who has ever eaten carrots has DIED. This is NOT arguable. In the current-day medical research arena, is a call for a ban, just around the corner??
    As my former professor and friend used to say…”…I wouldn’t be a good researcher , if I didn’t say ‘more research is needed’..”.

  12. As my grandfather used to say “you’ll die after eating (or dirnking) that…” after you were done. Scientists have now conclusivly proven that life is the leading cause of death in America!

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