Those of you who've been feeling smug about trading in sugary sodas for diet carbonated beverages might want to brace yourselves: People who drink diet soda every day are 48 percent more likely to have heart attacks and strokes -- and to die from those events -- than people who don't drink diet sodas, a new long-term study has concluded.
You heard me right ... a 48 percent higher risk!
Though the study merely establishes a link between daily diet soda consumption and vascular diseases, and doesn't track cause and effect -- nor does it differentiate between types or brands of diet soda -- it nevertheless serves as a pretty stark wake-up call for anyone out there who still consumes diet sodas each and every day.
Except, at this point, is anyone really shocked? There have been so many studies, in recent years, highlighting the danger of drinking too much soda, either sugary or artificially sweetened. In my younger days -- or perhaps only a few years ago, though it seems like another lifetime -- I was a fairly regular consumer of Diet Coke. Not a major-league consumer. I didn't drink it all day, every day, as one of my best college pals used to do. (She used to go through at least a two-liter bottle a day!) But I probably drank a Diet Coke, maybe two, each day.
Even as I drank it (and enjoyed it), I always suspected whatever was in diet beverages was probably none too good for me. But it wasn't until these studies started rolling out fast and furious over the last few years that I completely cut myself off. It was just too hard to justify a habit that -- it increasingly became clear -- was truly unhealthy. My drop-off was gradual. First I stopped buying diet soda during regular trips to the grocery store, then I stopped picking up the occasional bottle at the corner bodega on a hot day, then I stopped even asking for it when offered a free beverage on an airplane. Now I pretty much never touch the stuff.
I can't say I miss it. And I'm probably considerably healthier for my new beverage of choice: ice water -- and sometimes, just to switch things up, seltzer with a twist. In fact, I might mosey over to the faucet and pour myself a nice tall glass of H2O right now. Care to join me?
Will this new study affect your diet soda consumption?
Image via Joelk75/Flickr