Diet Drinks Linked to Heart Trouble in Older Women, But Questions Linger

Diet Drinks Linked to Heart Trouble in Older Women, But Questions LingerIt appears that older women who tend to drink the most diet sodas are more likely to develop heart disease and even die from a cardiovascular event, according to a new study published over the weekend.
Healthy postmenopausal women who drink two or more diet drinks a day may be more likely to have a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problems, according to the study, which is to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session.
Compared to women who never or only rarely consume diet drinks, those who consumed two or more a day were 30 percent more likely to suffer a cardiovascular event and 50 percent more likely to die from related disease, the study says.
However, there was no cause-and-effect found. But the association between diet drinks and cardiovascular problems raises more questions than it answers, and should stimulate further research, according to Ankur Vyas, M.D., fellow, Cardiovascular Diseases, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and the lead investigator of the study.
One factor could very well be that women who tend to drink more diet sodas do so to overcome other unhealthy habits, including deficiencies in their overall diet, and they may already be overweight and exhibiting heard disease risk factors.
“Our findings are in line with and extend data from previous studies showing an association between diet drinks and metabolic syndrome,” said Ankur Vyas, M.D., fellow, Cardiovascular Diseases, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and the lead investigator of the study. “We were interested in this research because there was a relative lack of data about diet drinks and cardiovascular outcomes and mortality.”
Metabolic syndrome encompasses a group of risk factors — such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, undesirable cholesterol levels, and a large waist size.
Researchers analyzed diet drink intake and cardiovascular risk factors from 59,614 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, making this the largest study to look at the relationship between diet drink consumption, cardiac events and death.
Earlier studies have established that consuming diet drinks doesn’t help folks lose weight, but they can be beneficial for diabetics and others wanting to avoid sugar-laden beverages.

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