By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
Some studies have suggested that consumption of diet soft drinks may be associated with Type 2 diabetes and development of the condition known as metabolic syndrome — high blood pressure, abdominal obesity and other risk factors. Now a 10-year epidemiological study has found a link between diet soft drinks and cardiovascular disease.
The analysis, published online in The Journal of General Internal Medicine, included 2,564 adults over 40 living in Manhattan. Researchers found that diet and regular soft drink consumption were both associated with a number of risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Even after controlling for many of those risks, including diabetes, the researchers found that daily consumption of diet soda was still independently associated with an increased risk for stroke, heart attack and death. The reasons for the association are unclear, the authors said, and the results must be interpreted with caution.
“The message for diet soft drink drinkers is not to be alarmed,” said the lead author, Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami. “What we’ve found is an association, and it might be due to chance or other unmeasured variables.”
Still, she added, if people stop drinking diet soda, they “are not going to be missing out on any important vitamins or minerals.”