Ive been asked repeatedly this week to comment on the huge press outcry about a study that links diet sodas to an increased risk of stroke and heart disease.
I have not seen the study and neither has anyone else. It is not yet published.
It was presented at the American Stroke Associations International Stroke Conference 2011. The American Heart Association has a short summary on its website. And Rosie Mestel has an excellent account in the Los Angeles Times.
Related: Home Soda Maker Review
Heres what I can glean from the limited information available:
That is all we know.
Does this study really mean that diet soda may not be the optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages for protection against vascular outcomes, as the lead author is quoted as saying?
As Rosie Mestel puts it:
Its worth noting, as some scientists did, that this is a link, not proof of cause and effect. After all, there are many things that people who slurp diet sodas every day are apt to do like eat a lousy diet and not all of these can be adjusted for, no matter how hard researchers try. Maybe those other factors are responsible for the stroke and heart attack risk, not the diet drinks. (Those who drink daily soda of any stripe, diet or otherwise, are probably not the most healthful among us.)
Leaving questions about the accuracy of dietary information obtained by questionnaire, the study raises more important questions:
Please understand that I am no fan of diet sodas. I dont like the metallic taste of artificial sweeteners and they are excluded by my dont eat rule: never eat anything artificial.
But before I believe that this study means that artificial sweeteners cause cardiovascular problems, I want to see a study designed to test this particular hypothesis and a plausible biological reason for how diet sodas might cause such problems.
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