Can Soda Cause Strokes and Heart Attacks

“Diet soda tied to stroke risk.”

This headline is just one of many tied to the release of a new study that found people who drink diet soda have a higher risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack.

Here’s what you need to know: Of the 2,500 participants in the 10-year study, 116 people sipped diet sodas daily. That group had a 48 per cent greater risk of stroke or heart attack versus those who drank no soda at all (about 901 people, or 35 per cent of the participants). Study researchers controlled for several variables, including waistline size, risk of diabetes, alcohol intake, smoking rates and blood pressure levels.

Yet here’s what lead researcher, Hannah Gardener of the University of Miami, had to say about the findings: “It’s reasonable to have doubts [about this study]… [It] needs to be viewed as a preliminary study. It’s too early to suggest any dietary advice [or changes].”

Um, what? Regardless of whether this is preliminary information, a 48 per cent greater chance of stroke should be enough to make anyone stop drinking diet soda — or, at the very least, cut down.

One news piece I read included this quote from Dr. Maureen Storey, senior vice president of science policy for the American Beverage Association: “The body of scientific evidence does show diet soft drinks can be a useful weight management tool, a position supported by the American Dietetic Association. Thus, to suggest they are harmful with no credible evidence does a disservice to those trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.”

Again: What!?

The scientific evidence actually shows diet soda consumption causes weight gain (not to mention cancer and a whole host of other problems). But the American Beverage Association, the American Dietetic Association and the Food and Drug Administration will never tell you this. They’ll likely continue to ignore evidence from studies that aren’t funded by the artificial sweetener industry. They’ll also continue to rely on industry funded panels that will — surprise, surprise — come up with findings that favor their own industry.

So, my advice? If studies suggest a food additive is unsafe, be warned — no matter how many industry funded studies or panel groups with conflicts of interest vouch for the product’s safety. While this study’s author may feel this info is “too preliminary to suggest any dietary advice,” I disagree.

Ditch diet sodas immediately.

The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, a holistic nutritionist and trained chef living in Toronto.