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Are Diet Sodas Safe?

By Matt Brignall
February 25, 2011
File under: Diet, Health Concerns, Natural Alternatives, Natural Health, Nutrition


A new study reported at the American Stroke Association’s annual meeting has reached a provocative conclusion. Based on the dietary patterns of over 2500 New York residents followed for nearly a decade, they correlated regular diet soda intake with increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

After correcting for the effects of obesity, smoking, and other critical risk factors, diet soda consumption was associated with a nearly 50% increase in risk.

This type of research cited here makes for better headlines than clinical guidance. Demonstrating a correlation between dietary patterns and health problems in a smaller study like this is really a first step toward building a hypothesis, and certainly doesn’t prove anything.

The beverage industry trade group has been quick to criticize these results, claiming that this is “bad science.” This is very clearly a biased overstatement. Preliminary science doesn’t mean bad science.

That aside, I’d be sort of inclined to agree with the beverage makers if it weren’t for this. And this. And this. Oh, and this.

If I weren’t working on a deadline, we could keep doing this exercise for a while. Now, as the beverage makers would likely be quick to remind us, not one of these research trials is all that conclusive, and more research needs to be done. But what these preliminary trials do is establish a troubling pattern. Given the excellent low-calorie alternatives to (e.g., water, tea, coffee), I’m not sure why anyone should choose artificially sweetened products.

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