Women between ages 50 and 79 are 23 percent more likely to have a stroke if they drink diet soft drinks than if they don't. Photo by Russell Shively/Shutterstock
Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Consuming multiple diet beverages in one day is associated with elevated stroke risk in post-menopausal women, a study says.
In fact, women between ages 50 and 79 are 23 percent more likely to have a stroke if they drink diet soft drinks than if they don't, according to a study published in the journal Stroke.
What's more, post-menopausal women who regularly drink diet beverages are 31 percent more likely to have a stroke caused by a clot. Those women are also 29 percent more likely to develop heart disease and 16 percent more likely to die from other causes.
Diet drinks include low-calorie, artificially sweetened sodas, teas and fruit drinks.
"Many well-meaning people, especially those who are overweight or obese, drink low-calorie sweetened drinks to cut calories in their diet. 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," said Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, a researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York and study lead author.
The American Heart Association has echoed this advice for children, saying that kids should opt for water instead of diet drinks.
"We don't know specifically what types of artificially sweetened beverages they were consuming, so we don't know which artificial sweeteners may be harmful and which may be harmless," Mossavar-Rahmani said.
"Unfortunately, current research simply does not provide enough evidence to distinguish between the effects of different low-calorie sweeteners on heart and brain health. This study adds to the evidence that limiting the use of diet beverages is the most prudent thing to do for your health," said Rachel K. Johnson, the chair of the writing group for the American Heart Association's science advisory. "The American Heart Association suggests water as the best choice for a no-calorie beverage. However, for some adults, diet drinks with low-calorie sweeteners may be helpful as they transition to adopting water as their primary drink."