Diet soda and stroke: Is there a link?
February 10th, 2011
01:19 PM ET

Diet soda and stroke: Is there a link?

Is it really called "diet" soda because it's better for you? A new study is calling that into question, but beware that the results are preliminary and don't entirely support the conclusion.

Researchers at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2011 conducted an experiment on this topic, and found that people who drink diet soda may have a much higher risk of vascular events compared to those who don't drink soda. They followed participants for an average of 9.3 years and kept track of vascular events such as stroke that occurred.

They also said their results showed a connection between salt and stroke. After a follow-up period of about 9.7 years years, those taking in more than 4,000 milligrams of sodium per day doubled their stroke risk compared to people who consume less than 1,500 milligrams per day.

"This study suggests that diet soda is not an optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages, and may be associated with a greater risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, or vascular death than regular soda," the researchers said in the study abstract.

But all of the information about how much soda and sodium consumed came from the participants' own reports, not from a controlled setting. It's possible that they remembered or stated their habits incorrectly, or did not maintain those habits consistently over time. Researchers also do not know about the specific brands and flavors of diet and regular sodas consumed.

"There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that diet soda uniquely causes increased risk of vascular events or stroke," Dr. Maureen Storey, senior vice president of science policy for the American Beverage Association, said in a statement.

Storey pointed out that this information comes from a research paper abstract presented at a conference, and was not in a study reviewed for publication by experts in the field. Also, the study authors did not control for weight gain or for family history of stroke.

This is the first time diet soda has been linked to vascular events, but previous research has implicated it in other health issues.

A 2007 study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation found that people who drink one or more soft drinks a day are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a heart disease precursor, than people who drink less than one soda a day.

Still, that study also only showed an association, and did not prove that sodas cause metabolic syndrome. There could be something else about people who drink soda regularly that directly leads to risk factors for heart disease.

About $74 billion worth of carbonated soft drinks are sold in the United States every year, with "diet" varieties constituting 30% of that, according to Beverage Digest.

soundoff (236 Responses)
  1. Virgnia Hopkins Health Watch

    There are numerous reasons to stay away from diet soda:
    1) aspartame (Nutrasweet) is an excitotoxin, which is a brain toxin (see work by Dr. Russell Blaylock for more info)
    2) Both phosphoric acid and caffeine have been shown to interfere with calcium absorption, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis
    3) The intense sweet taste of aspartame on the tongue signals the pancreas to produce insulin. Excess insulin weakens blood vessels, so it *does* make sense that diet soda would increase the risk of stroke in spite the poorly done research
    4) Excess caffeine eventually taps out the adrenal glands, leading to fatigue and hormone imbalances
    5) Phosphoric acid also destroys tooth enamel, leading to decay

    Try some fizzy water with a *small* amount of your favorite fruit juice added, or one of the flavorful herbal teas such as mint, ginger or chamomile.

    Virginia Hopkins Health Watch

    February 10, 2011 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave Shelter

      All soda contains Phosphoric acid, it's how soda gets carbonation including sugar soda. You have a bigger chance of getting killed in your car than from diet soda.

      February 10, 2011 at 14:12 | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Another reason to reduce Phosphoric Acid is it interferes with Good Cholesterol. From my own experience, I was getting good overall readings but Good Chl was below the minimum they wanted to see (30 or 35, I can't remember). They were doing other tests saying such numbers could be due to liver disease or liver cancer or such. I was scared. But then I spoke to my brother who is a pharmacist. He stated that the Phosphoric Acid in the cola I kept drinking (say around 64 oz's per day) would be enough to lower that level. So I cut that out for two weeks and got new tests. The Good Chl rose back to a normal range.

      SO now I try to limit myself to one 20 oz diet caffine free cola per day. Moderation is the key. To much of anything, even a diet drink, can be harmful.

      February 10, 2011 at 15:06 | Report abuse |
    • morrisbg

      3) The intense sweet taste of aspartame on the tongue signals the pancreas to produce insulin. Excess insulin weakens blood vessels, so it *does* make sense that diet soda would increase the risk of stroke in spite the poorly done research (Virginia Hopkins healthwatch)
      it would follow that sugar and other carbs, like white bread that produces excess insulin would also increase the risk of stroke?
      Many things produce excess insulin but do not increase the risk of stroke, so that does not follow logically.

      This so-called study was not a well-planned, well-executed study at all, it was a survey at most. The ages, family history, activities, lifestyles, levels of stress, food consumed, medicines used, would all have to be comparable data to make any kind of an 'association' like this, even the 'sodiumn' comparison is of no use because this was not a study...not even worth mentioning.

      February 10, 2011 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
    • brad

      Most sweetners are not absorbed by the body so #1 is mostly false. There is some very shaky data to show that massive amounts of some sweetner might be harmful over long term. And by massive amounts I mean pounds per week.
      #2 is absolutely true
      #3 and #4 are just stupid and have no proof or justification.
      #5 is absolutely true as well.

      February 10, 2011 at 15:28 | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      All very scary sounding things, but all of the things you mentioned are anecdotal at best, and downright untrue at worst. Correlation does not imply causation...one of the first things you learn in statistical analysis. Those who understand this concept are shaking their heads after reading this article. More fear mongering.

      February 10, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
    • Mom in Mo

      Phosphoric acid is not what causes the carbonation – that is carbon dioxide, which, when dissolved in water creates carbonic acid. Phosphoric acid is found in colas, but not necessarily in other soft drinks like root beer, Sprite or 7-Up. As for caffeine, how much is "too much"? I have a friend that has problems if she ingests any, while I can drink a cup of coffee right before bed and still sleep like a baby. I don't drink lots of soda, sugared or sugar-free, but I think rather than worry over this one study, I'm going to continue to occassionally have a (diet) soda, and mainly stick to water, coffee and tea.

      February 10, 2011 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
    • TJ


      Anyone who suffers from migraines has known to stay away from this substance (and caffeine except in medications) for years. This study doesn't surprise me in the least.

      February 10, 2011 at 15:54 | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Buster Bloodvessel

      Right, I'll be switching from Coke to fizzy herbal tea Real Soon Now, Moonbeam. Wow, aren't you the 'expert.'

      February 10, 2011 at 16:46 | Report abuse |
    • Xilo

      There are numerous reasons to stay away from diet soda:
      1) aspartame (Nutrasweet) is an excitotoxin, which is a brain toxin (see work by Dr. Russell Blaylock for more info)

      >>>>>Bad science, and completely unsupported by the evidence.

      2) Both phosphoric acid and caffeine have been shown to interfere with calcium absorption, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis

      >>>>>Yep, you can have this one.

      3) The intense sweet taste of aspartame on the tongue signals the pancreas to produce insulin. Excess insulin weakens blood vessels, so it *does* make sense that diet soda would increase the risk of stroke in spite the poorly done research

      >>>>>Taste doesn't signal the pancreas to do anything. Neither does smell, sound, sight or touch. The beta cells in the pancreas release insulin in response to influx of glucose through Glut2 glucose transporters in the cell wall, signaling a rise in blood glucose level. Since artificial sweeteners don't pass through these highly selective proteins, they cannot trigger the release of insulin. Other substances can stimulate some release of insulin, but aspartame isn't one of them.

      Diet sodas do, however, raise blood glucose slightly, due to the body's ability to turn pretty much anything it consumes into metabolic fuels for glycolysis and the citric acid cycle. However, since insulin is released for any food that you eat, it clearly doesn't follow that the release of insulin in response to food is a bad thing. Insulin, in addition to triggering the uptake of glucose from the blood in the muscles, liver and kidneys, has roles elsewhere in the body, such as in the central nervous system where it enhances learning and memory. Excess insulin is degraded after binding to its receptor in target tissues, and the body very tightly regulates how much insulin (and its opposing hormone, glucagon) is released into the blood stream in response to glucose.

      4) Excess caffeine eventually taps out the adrenal glands, leading to fatigue and hormone imbalances

      >>>>>No. Just no.

      5) Phosphoric acid also destroys tooth enamel, leading to decay

      >>>>>This is good. Sadly, the couple true things thrown in with the abortions in critical thinking that spawn #1, 3 and 4 just go to show that the average person has no idea how to systematically evaluate scientific research. And when the crap is repeated willy-nilly with things that most people know to be true (pop is bad for your teeth, etc.) it makes the crap sound more believable. I'm not trying to be a jerk, but hardly anyone knows how to spot the good science and ignore the bad, and it leads to atrocities like the completely falsified vaccine-autism link or the aspartame-M.S. bull.

      February 10, 2011 at 17:00 | Report abuse |
    • babaelf

      Can you believe the gall of this report to cite as 'an authority' on the subject the likes of "Dr. Maureen Storey" who happens to be the American Beverage Associations's senior VP of 'science policy' for that self-serving Association, claiming that "There's no scientific evidence to support the idea that diet soda uniquely causes increased risk of vascular events or stroke." This is really really galling..... Give us a break, Storey!

      February 10, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse |
    • Ann Palmer

      Thank you for some quality information. So we know that, while phosphoric acid and other ingredients may not be healthful, they are not a differntiator between the studied "diet" sodas and non-diet sodas. What IS a differntiato - and not mentioned here - is the sweetener used. Aspartame has been known to have egregious effects on body chemistry. Did the studied "diet" sodas include varieties sweetened with Splenda (sucarlose)? I'm weary of the assumption that all diet soda contains aspartame and caffeine just because those are the mass specs. Diet Rite has no caffeine and no Aspartame but there are now even better choices. BLUE SKY FREE and ZEVIA are sweetened with stevia. . . what we really need is better access to better choices vs. the me-too stuff from all of the big brands.

      February 10, 2011 at 17:38 | Report abuse |
    • wrongconclusions

      Did the researchers ever stop and think that maybe the people drinking diet sodas already had an underlaying medical condition. One that predisposed them to strokes. Oh such as diabetes and that's why they were drinking diet soda. And the medical condition was causing the strokes and not the diet soda?

      February 10, 2011 at 17:42 | Report abuse |
    • DrRational

      @Xilo – your are totally right.

      Dr. Russell Blaylock thinks everything is bad. Fortunately he has a cure. The only good thing in the entire universe. What a coincidence that he sells it for top dollar.

      Being overweight and having high blood pressure is associated with blood vessel issues like stroke. Overweight people with high blood pressure tend to drink diet soda. The connection may not go any deeper than that.

      It's a lot like how bikinis cause people to buy ice. When more women are wearing bikinis, ice sells better.

      February 10, 2011 at 17:43 | Report abuse |
    • squealy

      Caffeine's affect on the adrenals is totally true. I have depleted adrenals (there are tests out there. . . ) and cannot do any form of caffeine, even green tea is too much for my adrenals. The effects are significant, especially over time.

      February 10, 2011 at 18:05 | Report abuse |
    • jason

      ya you keep telling yourself that Dave. Why is it everyone throws that statistic out there when faced with something that might not be as good for you as once thought? The better plan is to give up sodas all together , It's man-made poison thats slowly eating away at your insides anyways.

      February 10, 2011 at 18:07 | Report abuse |
    • sodafan

      I'm 46, and have been drinking almost a case of soda A DAY since I was 12. The last seven years I have been drinking either Diet Coke or Coke Zero (to avoid cavities). I had a physical last month and the doc asked me if I was a vegetarian, said my cholesteral, heart rate, blood pressure and body mass index were all at perfect or near perfect levels. I'm female and get tested for osteoporosis regularly (i have a genetic tendency for this) and have been told my bones are strong. (i'm also a size four, so no obesity or diabetes issues).

      Why do people always want to say the sky is falling? Many others factors are much more likely to influence your health than diet soda. If you like diet soda, enjoy it!

      (Oh, I also love McD's french fries and pizza!)

      February 10, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse |
    • Pat Jones

      I found out if I have any diet drink with diet sugar I cannot sleep. My brain would keep me awake all night. What I mean by that it is I just couldn't calm down to go to sleep I was thinking of all the stuff I needed to do . I couldn't figure out what was keeping me awake so I started eliminating everything and it got down to the soda and artifical sugar I used in coffee. After compeletly removing any diet sugar from my diet I was able to sleep again after months of sleeplessness. I also wondered if expectant mothers were consuming it while pregant . If it was affecting my brain already developed. What would it do to a developing brain?

      February 10, 2011 at 18:30 | Report abuse |
    • SouthernCelt

      As a hypertensive Diabetic I have been denied everything except water by you Medical Extremists! Taste is one of our primary senses and you keep trying to destroy it. I'll eat and drink what I please and God can have me whenever He wants and not until.

      February 10, 2011 at 18:52 | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Know It All

      It is known for sure that too much of anything is bad for anyone. If a person was to eat potatoes 3 times a day with nothing else they would be huge in no time. If you drink regluar soda all day long and hang on it every day you would get fat too.So really the weight you put on from so many foods and drinks is not good as beining over weight is going to kill you sooner or later. I also know for sure that these diet products have been tested on little mice and they have died after so long. These little critters were given massive doses of this stuff so naturally they'd die from it. These mice are much smaller than humans and animals well most do not live as long as humans either. Do not believe all this stuff because anything you have in excess will kill you one way or another. Remember too much cheese will turn you into a mouse too!

      February 10, 2011 at 20:23 | Report abuse |
    • RoseMcB

      These so-called studies annoy me no end. This one, in particular, is a very poor work product. The best anyone can glean from this is that the people surveyed/studied probably have a host of other at-risk behaviors and conditions and are probably morbidly obese, which is really the crux of this particular problem and many other related issues. These persons' consumption of diet sodas is probably the LEAST dangerous aspect of their dietary behaviors. I would even venture to say that, if these subjects completely eliminated diet sodas from their diets, they would STILL be at considerable risk for strokes or heart disease, etc., for many other reasons. Ridiculous.

      February 10, 2011 at 20:42 | Report abuse |

      Does this mean I shouldn't drink regular Dr. Pepper?

      February 10, 2011 at 21:20 | Report abuse |
    • Nathan

      Completely agree.

      February 10, 2011 at 21:48 | Report abuse |
    • Nathan

      There shouldn’t be a debate over whether or not aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are safe. Why on earth would ANYONE want to drink something artificial? All for what to avoid a measly 90 calories? If you’re drinking so much soda in one day that you have anxiety over the calories your taking in then you have more to worry about than weigh gain. Too much of anything is no good, but consuming something so artificial and manufactured with little evidence on either side if it’s safe or not….better to be safe and not consume it!

      February 10, 2011 at 21:54 | Report abuse |
    • nonsense1234

      Diet sodas are made from a variety of ingredients. Some use Aspartame, some use Splenda or sucralose, and the latest and probably the safest uses steva, a South American plant used for centuries as a sweetener.

      February 10, 2011 at 22:36 | Report abuse |
    • R

      This is right on. It's surprising more people aren't aware of the information.

      February 11, 2011 at 02:18 | Report abuse |
    • CJ

      So to sum up...if you want to remain healthy eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, drink ONLY water and live in a tree like a squirrel.

      February 11, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
  2. skk

    So fat people are more likely to drink diet soda and also more likely to have strokes. Big deal, who needs a study to prove this. Look, every year when ice cream consumption goes up so do drownings. One doesn't cause the other though because both increase during the summer when people eat more ice cream and swim more. The two are "statistically unattached"

    February 10, 2011 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave Shelter

      Thank you... at least someone on here with a brain.

      February 10, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
    • Shura

      Thank you – that is a perfect example of the golden rule of statistical analysis: Correlation does not imply causation. Just because two things occur together does not mean that one causes the other. It could be that one causes the other, or it could be a third factor causing both, or it could be a coincidence. All it means is that we should look into it more.

      February 10, 2011 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      Exactly what I was thinking. Generally, the people drinking diet soda's are already living an unhealthy lifestyle. Thus, they are already more likely to suffer from these types of diseases. You don't see a ton of super fit people guzzling biggulps of diet coke.

      I worked at an ice cream shop way back when. I always laughed at the people who would get a banasplit, extra fudge, extra whip cream, and a large diet coke. I am sure fast food employees see the same thing on a daily basis.

      February 10, 2011 at 15:17 | Report abuse |
    • CJ

      What simplistic 'thinking' – very scary – dismiss the entire article subject with a FALSE analogy? Scary

      February 10, 2011 at 15:33 | Report abuse |
    • nepawoods

      CJ – It's not a "false analogy", it's a simple example demonstrating that correlation does not imply causation. Another would be the fact that people who wear protective headgear suffer more head injuries than people who don't. Why? Because people who wear protective headgear do so because they're engaged in activities that puts them at risk for head injuries. The headgear lessens the risk, but still leaves them at greater risk than people not engaged in those activities.

      In this case, people who drink no soda at all are likely to be more health conscious in general – and not simply healthier because they drink no soda.

      February 10, 2011 at 15:54 | Report abuse |
    • Ali

      I'm sure they adjusted for BMI. Its all the processed salt-laden food that is causing this relationship. The association that they found is between poor eating habits overall and little exercise and risk for cardiovascular events. So the take-away from the study is don't eat a lot of processed food and exercise and you will reduce your risk for cardiovascular events (which we already knew).

      February 10, 2011 at 16:07 | Report abuse |
    • TJ

      You have a point except that aspartame is also a migraine trigger in that it causes migraines when suffers screw up and allow it into their diet by not avoiding the "sugar free" crap.

      And migraines are linked to stroke. That study is valid.

      So while thus study is horribly flawed, there is some truth here.

      February 10, 2011 at 16:08 | Report abuse |
    • VB


      February 10, 2011 at 16:16 | Report abuse |
    • Neil

      I used to have a laugh at the folks that would come into the Movie Theaer I worked at and order an extra large popcorn with extra butter – and an extra large diet coke...LOL

      February 10, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
    • todd

      Question for Neil: I've always wondered, what is movie popcorn butter anyway? It doesn't even look like melted butter. Is it?

      February 10, 2011 at 16:46 | Report abuse |
    • Neil

      It was some time ago, back in the day it was actual butter ... today dunno..

      February 10, 2011 at 17:00 | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      exactly obese peeps dont just drink diet soda they drink multiple diet soda lucky they dont die of drowning of diet soda too....

      When will a study come out that shows dumb people tend to do dumb things, u can use sarah palin as the prime example

      February 10, 2011 at 17:06 | Report abuse |
  3. Inmyopinion

    Makes sense. Too much sodium leads to retention of water, which stretches the walls of the blood vessels and that leads to high blood pressure. I have read that you are better off drinking regular soda than diet soda because of the chemical process to diet soda in order to make it a diet drink.

    February 10, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave Shelter

      There is no chemical process to make it diet, your thinking of decaffeinated coffee, diet soda is just coloring and water with Aspertine or Phyenalo...what evers.

      February 10, 2011 at 14:15 | Report abuse |
    • TJ

      Unless he's referring to the way they make aspartame which doesn't occur naturally.

      February 10, 2011 at 16:25 | Report abuse |
  4. brian

    In five years they'll say two diet sodas a day prevents heart attack, like with wine. Besides, if I have to give up my 40 diet sodas per day, I'd rather be dead anyway.

    February 10, 2011 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • seriously

      are you serious? you drink 40 diet soda's a day? holy cow...how do you have that much time...aren't you in the bathroom like every 3 minutes.....

      February 10, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
    • Humphry

      @seriously, Seriously?

      February 10, 2011 at 16:16 | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      +1 palin stupid

      February 10, 2011 at 17:07 | Report abuse |
    • jason

      holy cow!!! 40? You sure you didn't mean 4 . Even in my teens i could only drink like a 12 pack of dew in a day now i've sworn off most everything except water and juices without added sugars . Funny how the weight drops off like a landslide afterwards to.

      February 10, 2011 at 18:18 | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      You already are if you're drinking that many cans of anything!!!

      February 10, 2011 at 19:35 | Report abuse |
  5. EricLr

    The medical community are a bunch of medieval moralists who pretend (to themselves and others) to be objective scientists. Their studies are unconsciously rigged to always show that any food or drink that is enjoyable is unhealthy–a variation on the classic "enjoyment is immoral" arguments of St. Augustine and others. If it were up to them, we would all live on a diet of water and cardboard.

    February 10, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Denizen Kate

      Well put. As my dear old dad used to say, "If it tastes good, spit it out."

      February 10, 2011 at 15:37 | Report abuse |
    • montyhp

      Having not seen the study, my guess is most of the controversy is caused by the exuberant reporting. Most of the time, scientific studies don't make shocking claims because other scientists tend to ridicule them. (Look at Pons and Fleischman, couple of rubes).

      February 10, 2011 at 15:53 | Report abuse |
    • robinsondb

      Who cares, None of us is gonna get outta here alive anyway...so live a little while you can

      February 10, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
    • GG

      Actually Denizen, Jack Lalane (who just died) is more famous for the saying "If it tastes good, spit it out."

      February 10, 2011 at 17:43 | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      @GG: That's probably where my dad got the saying. Mom and I used to exercise with old Jack every morning.

      February 10, 2011 at 19:35 | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      If you eat cereal, you already are living on cardboard.

      February 10, 2011 at 19:38 | Report abuse |
  6. Conrad Shull

    I've noticed a link between studies like this and CNN's slow demise as a news source of note.

    February 10, 2011 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Olivedrab

      Absolutely. 'the demise of CNN as a news source'....as we were listening to Bernard Shaw from that hotel room in Baghdad, who would have thought that would have been possible? Shame.

      February 10, 2011 at 15:30 | Report abuse |
  7. Adam

    Where are all the people who were ripping on Cannabis because CNN published a story that said it MAY cause psychosis? Looks like we need to enact the prohibition of diet soda! It's for your own good, citizens.

    February 10, 2011 at 15:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Beauregard

    Their diet soda drinkers self select, fatal to "polls". Diet sodas are more likely to be overweight and with health issues. They are also more health aware and therefore more likely to volunteer poll information. They simply just ended up with sick people and then used that data to prove they were sick. A shame "news" organizations sensationalize this sort of thing. Professionals should realize the report is hokem and not give these "researchers" the publicity they seek..

    February 10, 2011 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. arthur

    Almost anything is bad for you in a large amound. Even water!!

    February 10, 2011 at 15:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Allison

    I would like to know what they controlled for in this study. Its more likely that this association is due to other habits and/or characteristics of diet soda drinkers like smoking, salt intake, exercise habits, BMI, socioeconomic status, ect. There is no way they could control for poor eating habits, like eating a lot of processed food. Individuals that drink diet soda everyday are probably more likely to have other bad habits and be less health conscious overall compared to individuals that don't drink soda everyday. Also, I would like to know what the control population was like?

    February 10, 2011 at 15:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Clair

    The researchers did not conduct an experiment – they conducted a tracking study. It appears that they took no measures to match their sample of diet soda/non-diet soda drinkers or to take into account any correlates that may impact their measured outcomes. They are claiming to have found a causal link via a study that cannot possibly establish causality.

    February 10, 2011 at 15:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Sweety

    Aspartamekills DUHHH this is not news. Google aspartame kills

    February 10, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Billy X

      So what, google "rectal probe by aliens"!

      February 10, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
    • Neil

      @Billy X – awesome!!!

      February 10, 2011 at 17:02 | Report abuse |
  13. flexx

    Diet soda has aspartame,or splenda, or asulfame potassium, all the same toxins, & it also makes you gain weight , not lose...people just don't learn....

    February 10, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BDKennedy1

      The people that gain the weight are the ones that over-eat because they think they can eat more by drinking diet soda – Big Mac, large fries and a large Diet Coke.

      I've been drinking diet soda for 30 years and I'm basically the same weight.

      February 10, 2011 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
    • dietsodadrinker

      everyone's body is different – everyone reacts to things differently –

      and people don't gain weight on diet soda because they eat more – that's not it really – not for all of us – when I quit drinking diet soda I lose a good five to ten pounds very quickly (it's all that sodium and water retention) but I tend not to change my other eating habits.

      February 10, 2011 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
    • falamas11

      Chemically these products a very different so to say they are the same toxin is not exactly correct. However, I am sure these sweetners (or sucrose) is not a "healthy" choice, but the all things being equal, a zero calorie sweetner cannot cause weight gain. Is it possible that it could lead to cravings for other high caloric foods? Sure, but that is anecdotal at best.

      February 10, 2011 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Diet soda does not 'cause' you to gain weight. 0 calories in a diet 20oz soda vs 240 calories in a regular 20oz soda says your wrong. People gain weight because of the other habits they don't change when they switch to diet soda, not because of the soda itself.

      February 10, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      I actually lost about 10 pounds in a year by switching from regular colas to diet. No other dietary changes.

      February 10, 2011 at 16:46 | Report abuse |
  14. Whodatpat

    Don’t you think people who never drink soda and stick to juices and water may have a few PHYSICAL differences from the average Soda Guzzling Joe that could affect their likelihood of a stroke? Don’t you think they would most likely also eat completely different types of food, and have completely different eating habits and that too could maybe have an impact on the stroke likelihood?
    I have a study for you; “People who wear bra’s are more likely to get breast cancer than people who do not.”
    Everyone should go bra-less right! But wait, they counted men in that study too didn’t they. So it turns out this study proves nothing more about the Bra than that stupid study does about the Soda!

    February 10, 2011 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. BDKennedy1

    The study is ridiculous. It doesn't take into consideration the person's pre-existing health and eating habits or which of the half dozen sweeteners were used in the diet soda. The same sweeteners are used in baked and dairy goods. What about those?

    February 10, 2011 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Denizen Kate

    My doctor told me that if I don't smoke, don't drink, don't eat anything that isn't good for me, etc etc etc, that I would live longer. My response: "You call that living?" Reports like this have one purpose only – to tell us what to fear. Seriously, folks, we're born, we live, we die. Langston Hughes said it best:

    Birthing is hard
    and dying is mean
    so get yourself
    a little lovin'
    in between.

    February 10, 2011 at 15:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. dietsodadrinker

    I've been trying to quit Diet Soda for years – when ever I do get off of it I tend to get sick (headaches, nausea).

    It's an addictive substance – which would mean it's understandable that there are all these defenders of Diet Soda on this thread.

    I hate that I drink this much soda. The sodium alone is enough to give me pause, let alone the caffeine. People need to realize – we've only been consuming diet soda since the 1980's – that's not very long to see how long term use can effect a person.

    February 10, 2011 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JC

      Totally is....getting off Tab made me feel like I was trying to get off heroin. Shakes, sweats, headaches...man, I must have drank so much Tab that I gave cancer to laboratory rats!

      February 10, 2011 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
    • Neil

      That sounds like caffine withdrawl....

      February 10, 2011 at 16:35 | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      That can't be good. Either it is caffeine withdrawal, or maybe your body doesn't cope without the insulin response it's gotten used to. You may need some help but you could only be doing yourself a favor to wean yourself off it if it messes you up that much.

      February 10, 2011 at 18:20 | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      And maybe a coincidence but it's at least ironic how obesity has also risen since people have been drinking diet soda!

      February 10, 2011 at 18:22 | Report abuse |
    • Linderella49

      Diet sodas, eg., Diet Rite and Tab, were popular starting around 1965. I've been drinking diet sodas since then with all different varieties of added sweeteners. I know that when I've occasionally tried to drink a regular soda, I've found the sweetness to be almost sickening.

      February 11, 2011 at 02:53 | Report abuse |
  18. Burbank

    Why on earth don't they make diet soda with Stevia? It's a natural zero calorie herb, not a toxic chemical.

    February 10, 2011 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JC

      Well there ya go...you answered your own question

      February 10, 2011 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
    • nepawoods

      Not many people would buy soda with stevia, because it tastes bad to most people. Besides, just because something is natural, that doesn't mean it's safe. The plant world is loaded with toxic substances. "Natural is better than synthetic" is a simple rule, but one that doesn't hold true in reality.

      February 10, 2011 at 16:06 | Report abuse |
    • AleeD

      There IS a diet soda on the market made from stevia called "Zevia." I had the opp last year to try 4 of their 7 flavors ......... and I didn't care for the taste of any of them. Why? Because it tastes just like regular sugar-ladened soda.

      I'm a former Tab drinker who converted over to Diet Coke THE INSTANT I could buy it & try it (I'm over-simplifying, but I think you get my meaning). Now if I try to drink a soda WITH sugar, it is extremely unappealing. If I have a choice, I'd rather drink water than a soda containing sugar.

      February 10, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      They do, Burbank ... imo it tastes nasty – maybe if you like licorice you'd like it. I don't drink diet soda anyway but wanted to see what the fuss was about.

      February 10, 2011 at 18:18 | Report abuse |
  19. JC

    No one ever told me diet anything was "good" for you..just that it did not have as many calories as the other stuff. Are we projecting a bit?

    February 10, 2011 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Burbank

    It's not addictive. I chugged diet soda everyday since the early 80's and quit cold turkey last year when I realized how bad it was for me and did not have any withdrawals. Actually I didn't realize how bad that stuff was making me feel until near the end when I started paying attention to how I felt after drinking it. I think what you may be experiencing is caffeine withdrawal. Most sodas, even non cola flavors, are loaded with caffeine.

    February 10, 2011 at 15:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Ryan

    I tried switching to diet pop a few times in the past, but I just couldn't get used to the flavor of the aspartame that nearly every diet drink uses. It always left a very bitter aftertaste in my mouth. This was all before I found out about the links between aspartame and brain cancer.

    I've also tried switching to juices with mixed success. The juices I've tried, even the 100% ones, have more sugar per serving than that of pop. Pop generally tends to have about 26 grams of sugar per serving, while most of the juices I drink have 32-36 grams of sugar. This surprised me quite a bit, but since I like the flavor and sometimes want something that isn't carbonated, I still drink juice. Sometimes bottled, sometimes frozen canned, but still good (Great Value Fruit Punch is a personal favorite).

    What really annoyed me was that some of the juice companys started using aspartame in the juices along with sugar, which made little sense to me. I was still getting sugar, but now with a nasty aftertaste and the threat of brain cancer. I have to wonder: is there so many sweeteners out there like aspartame that it's now cheaper to have artificial sweetener than refined or natural sugar?

    I finally found a way to lose some weight: I started making Kool-Aid packets, just like when I was a kid, but I put less sugar in. It still has the full flavor, but with a little more zing to it and less calories.
    I still see the necessities of diet drinks for people, like one of my aunts, who are diabetic and need far more regulation of their sugar.

    February 10, 2011 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MrsFizzy

      Um I think the "necessity" of diet drinks is debatable ...if you mean as opposed to a diabetic drinking "sugary" drinks yes in the short term it's better, but there is always water! And by the way there is not going to be much juice in your GV Fruit Punch not to mention the other crap that's probably in a drink like that. You could always dilute juice with water yourself and mix with a little unrefined sugar ...much healthier, if you care about that.

      February 10, 2011 at 18:26 | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      And your post brings up the point that a lot of the products that people think of as "Juice" and a healthy alternative, are NOT juice!

      February 10, 2011 at 18:28 | Report abuse |
  22. Trafik25

    omg we're all gonna die. Im gonna die tomorrow. I drink diet soda everyday. Im writing my will right now.

    February 10, 2011 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Jim

    Aspartame...is a chemical that can cause cancer. Sugar in all forms is very bad. White sugar, white death.

    February 10, 2011 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. glennm

    Hmm – last time I checked or heard anything America has an obesity epidemic. I know plenty of people who insist regular soda is safer and they guzzle the empty calories and are as fat as cows and pigs. Diet soda we all know isn't exactly healthy, but sugar junk food and salty things aren't either. So many people I know smoke, drink booze and party. A little diet soda won"t do anyone much harm most likely and the comment that it's more dangerous driving is most likely true...

    February 10, 2011 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. glennm

    correction – not more dangerous than driving, in which one has a 1 in 5000 chance of dying in an auto accident in the USA.

    February 10, 2011 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. James

    No pun intended, but I hope this kills the diet soda industry. It is bad stuff

    February 10, 2011 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TJ

      The diet soda industry is the same as the soda industry.

      just sayin'

      February 10, 2011 at 16:11 | Report abuse |
  27. BD

    1) Artificial sweetners confuse insulin production because the sweetness on the tongue signals its production but the insulin goes unused because your body is not processing any sugars, this is why its worse than regular cola in that regard (drinkin 10tsp of sugar disolved in salt water isn't too great for tha' diubeatus either)

    2) Sodium is the new tobacco, research is just begining to unveil the horrible effect excess sodium consumption has on your body and people will be shocked to find out what is considered excess (as well as where the sources of their sodium consumption are)

    February 10, 2011 at 16:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Brian

    Would like to see a scientific study of this. This "study" could have been done by an eighth grade dropout.

    February 10, 2011 at 16:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Steve

    This isn't the first time I have heard this, the last time several weeks later the statement was also made, people drinking diet soda are already in a higher catagorey for stroke due to heavier weight and less physical excersize....sounds like we might need more info on how this study was done

    February 10, 2011 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. ricin

    if the doctor apologist / sellout for the industry is so confident of her comments – shouldn't her industry fund a study of this preliminary findings – probably the truth is they already know but don't want to have the info go public but would rather have folks argue about its validity – a 9.6 year study. but the real solution is drink water.

    February 10, 2011 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Sarah in Texas

    I believe it. I have the bad habit of drinking one DDP (Diet Dr. Pepper) a day because my company provides sodas for free, but I ought to stop because I know the stuff is terrible. All those artifical sweetners and chemicals are just poison to the body. I once read that they literally pickle our organs and insides... yuck. Let's all eat homegrown organic foods! Yes!

    February 10, 2011 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Countries like France, China and many others refrain from America made products and don't allow their children to consume them. We can learn something from these people; they are smaller in weight, they live longer and excel in education.

    February 10, 2011 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TJ

      You can buy a Coke pretty much anywhere. The difference is that it's not sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. But, uh, you can buy Coke, or Pepsi in these countries.

      February 10, 2011 at 16:28 | Report abuse |
    • westcoastkid

      where are you coming from lady. i travel oversea often and your comment is pure nonsense.

      February 10, 2011 at 17:35 | Report abuse |
  33. JoeT

    So my Diet Dr. Pepper has 65mg of sodium in it. The study cited differences in sodium intake of 4000mg vs 1500mg. Granted there is actual causistry between salt intake and stroke incidence, that would mean I would be drinking a tad over 38 cans each day to make up the difference. As an aside, if the first paragraph includes "but beware that the results are preliminary and don't entirely support the conclusion", then that's a signal that there's nothing to it. Get some solid and verifiable results, and then write an article.

    February 10, 2011 at 16:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. ResearchHeadlineMongeringCNN

    Or maybe people who are overweight and at higher risk are more likely to drink diet soda 😛

    February 10, 2011 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. John

    Wow, who would have though that the American diet was so unhealthy. I mean, everyone is so skinny in the U.S.

    February 10, 2011 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. airjay81

    So to make a long story short, still no concrete evidence that diet soda or artificial sweetener have any negative health consequences. What a joke. Seriously, I don't even know why this is making news. Unless someone does a real study that is peer-reviewed and controlled for various confounding variables that affirmatively links diet soda or artificial sweetener to negative health consequences, it shouldn't be making news and it isn't going to alter my consumption habits.

    February 10, 2011 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Dez

    All this silly debate between regular and diet soda. Here's an idea... Neither is good for you, drink water instead! Can't get any more natural than that!

    February 10, 2011 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • westcoastkid

      Err, have you heard about all the toxins in water that flows from the taps in American cities. You call that mix natural?

      February 10, 2011 at 17:36 | Report abuse |
  38. ShawnBob

    Why did the study track sodium intake?
    Wouldn't the study mean that "People who consume too much salt have these problems".

    Soda is not the same thing as Sodium...sure there is some sodium in it, but it's in other things too...you could say the same thing about french fries, or movie theater popcorn...or anything else that contains sodium...why single out soda?

    February 10, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. ILikeMySoda

    I am not sure why people that drank diet soda would also have such a huge salt intake. This article mentions 1,500 mg sodium intake/day for sugar soda drinkers to 4,000 mg sodium intake/day for diet soda drinkers. I am looking at my Diet Pepsi Max can and notice it has 40 mg of sodium for 12 ounces. Let's see, I would need to drink 100 cans of 12-oz soda to reach 4,000 mg of sodium. If you consider the 500 mg/ day sodium intake that I have in my normal food diet, I would still have to drink 25 cans of soda a day – nearly 2.3 GALLONS of soda to hit the 1,500 level.
    While I usually love a good conspiracy theory, I'm just not buying into this one...

    February 10, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Amy

      500 mg of sodium in your normal diet? So you're eating NO processed foods and adding only a VERY light sprinkling of salt to your extremely bland diet?

      Take a look at the sodium content of the food you eat before you make statements like this. The average person is consuming FAR more than 1500 mg of sodium daily even if they never touch the salt shaker.

      February 10, 2011 at 16:48 | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      BTW, that 40 mg is probably based on an 8 ounce serving. Most people consume 12 or 20 ounces at a time (or more), not 8. So they'd be getting quite a bit more than 40 mg every time they had a glass of soda.

      February 10, 2011 at 16:52 | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, and also MSG belong to a type of chemical called "Excitotoxins" – they stimulate you to crave them and could explain why people who drink diet drinks also consume a lot of sodium. Their taste buds are in overdrive.

      February 10, 2011 at 18:35 | Report abuse |
  40. Kim

    Dear CNN: Please do not post results from these half-a$$ed studies. We want facts, not speculation. Until we start seeing more controlled-studies done, the integrity of the research is called into question.

    Everyone knows diet soda is terrible for you, along with every other processed food available at your local grocery store.

    February 10, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. outawork

    I'll stick to orange juice

    February 10, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Amy

      Who can afford orange juice? I can get a 2L cola on sale for 99 cents. The same amount of orange juice would be about 3 times that much. Not to mention most OJ has a lot of added sugar. I'd rather not suck down calories like water, thank you very much.

      February 10, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
  42. robinsondb

    Once again, who cares...no one gets out of here alive..and he is such great "eye candy"

    February 10, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MrsFizzy


      February 10, 2011 at 18:38 | Report abuse |
  43. linus

    How could they not control for weight gain? Aren't overweight people more likely to drink diet sodas? And aren't overweight people more likely to have a vascular event, no matter what soda they drink? It is horribly, HORRIBLY irresponsible for anyone to report such sloppy results, and the authors of this study should never, EVER receive funding for another research project.

    February 10, 2011 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Andrew

    What a rubbish study. Not peer-reviewed. Does not take into account other health factors that contribute to stroke like weight and family history. Didn't even control for a specific brand or amount of soda. It's all conjecture, basically – it would be a joke to call this 'science'.

    I think what angers me the most is that CNN thinks that this is worth reporting about. It's junk science, and reporting about it just perpetuates more myths.

    February 10, 2011 at 16:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Yep

      Yep. A conference presentation is basically worthless.

      February 10, 2011 at 17:31 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Good reply you made. I agree wholeheartedly with your position. The really unfortunate thing about so-called "science" today is this correlation presented as cause and effect which most of the time it's not. It is a sad reflection of the dismal state of understanding we have in this country about real science. btw I have a PhD in physics and I am passionate about work requiring a deep and intuitive understanding of statistics and probability. The sad thing is most statisticians are simply 'book-learned' hacks who barely understand the math let alone what it represents. Thanks again

      February 10, 2011 at 22:01 | Report abuse |
  45. smc

    The problem is that many people who drink diet sodas often lack self control over other foods as well. This study did not account for that. I am skeptical that diet soda alone could cause as significant results as what these researchers found.

    February 10, 2011 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. VA_Jill

    According to other reports the study did not control for 2 major risk factors for stroke: family history and weight gain. This makes me wonder if they also did not control for one of the biggest risks, which is diabetes. Diabetics are some of the major consumers of diet drinks. Looks to me like this study is flawed. FAIL!

    February 10, 2011 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Melisann

    My mother has had pancreatic cancer since 2000. She has had more than one specialist suggest that her frequent drinking of drinks that contained Nutrasweet (mainly she drank Crystal Light) is the root of her cancer. Her pancreas had a tumor the size of a softball on it, and she has never smoked and did not drink alcohol either. Scary stuff, I try to stay away from it.

    February 10, 2011 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chuck

      I'm a diabetic, controlling my disease through diet. Your idea that the taste of sweeteners tell the body to produce insulin and that insulin weakens the blood vessels is inaccurate beyond belief. Please do not try to provide advice to people on nutrition or health when you obviously neither possess accurate knowledge nor the ability to find it.

      February 10, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Melissa, this posted to the wrong post, and was not meant as a response to you.

      February 10, 2011 at 17:14 | Report abuse |
  48. John S

    So this was more or less just a survey? Gimme a break. How many people lie about their own health?

    February 10, 2011 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Stevelb1

    I know this, I quit drinking diet soda, switched to plain soda water with a twist of lemon and now I don't have to take an antacid after every meal. Changed my life.

    February 10, 2011 at 17:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. jewelgirl12

    All of this chatter made me thirsty. I just got a full glass of spring water. Read what flouride does to you (don't use it in my toothpaste either) If you look a the ingredients on the labels of our food you will find that we are consuming chemicals and unhealthy additives at an alraming rate. I just finished a 21 day cleanse with Standard Process and had my blood work redone. From bad cholesteral to a perfect score and natural supplements has my thyroid kicking back in. No more medication period. No more canned food, processed food and only a little fish and chicken. I have never felt better and I lost 10 pounds. People have even noticed that my skin looks better. Fresh fruit, fresh and steamed vegatables, brown rice and good water. It is hard to live in America and be healthy.

    February 10, 2011 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
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