Bad News For Those Who Only Drink Diet Soda

We've heard about how bad sugary drinks can be for us, but there's not always a ton of news about what happens if you drink too much diet soda. Sure, we know artificial sweeteners aren't great for you, but I don't think many of us suspected the full extent of potential damage caused by diet sodas overall.

There are a couple of different views on a study that's been released by the American Heart Association claiming that chronic diet soda drinking can lead to stroke and/or dementia. One view, obviously, is just that. It's based on a study carried out by the AHA's scientific journal, Stroke.

More than 4,000 subjects were examined over the course of 10 years for their consumption of both sugary and non-sugary beverages. One might think that the greater health risks would be associated with the high-sugar diets, but that would be wrong. The risk of stroke and dementia proved to increase in those who drank beverages using artificial sweeteners versus those who drank regular sugary beverages.

The second view is that of the American Beverage Association, who was understandably unhappy with this study. The ABA released the following statement:

"Low-calorie sweeteners have been proven safe by worldwide government safety authorities as well as hundreds of scientific studies and there is nothing in this research that counters this well-established fact. The FDA, World Health Organization, European Food Safety Authority and others have extensively reviewed low-calorie sweeteners and have all reached the same conclusion -- they are safe for consumption.

While we respect the mission of these organizations to help prevent conditions like stroke and dementia, the authors of this study acknowledge that their conclusions do not -- and cannot -- prove cause and effect. And according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), many risk factors can increase an individual’s likelihood of developing stroke and dementia including age, hypertension, diabetes and genetics. NIH does not mention zero calorie sweeteners as a risk factor."

It's true that a cause and effect was not clearly established, and that all of the test subjects were over the age of 45, which means that in 10 years, there could have been plenty of other factors that led to stroke or dementia. What's certain though, is that more research into this claim wouldn't hurt.