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CHICAGO (CBS) – People often drink diet sodas to be healthier, but new research suggests some potential health dangers.
CBS 2′s Roseanne Tellez reports a look at the risk and has some advice on what to do if you’re a fan of those drinks.
No doubt, millions of people can’t seem to do without their diet soda. But some recent research suggests a link between diet soda and heart disease. That may cause some people to make a different choice the next time they’re thirsty.
The University of Miami/Columbia University study found the risk of heart attack and stroke was 43 percent higher among people who drank diet soda at least once a day.
For people who never or rarely drank diet beverages, the risk was just 22 percent. And, there was no increased risk for regular soda drinkers.
Dr. Annabelle Volgman, director of the Rush Heart Center for Women, believes those findings are cause for concern.
“It worries me that we think diet sodas are better than regular sodas. It may be in terms of calorie intake, but it doesn’t seem to be protective from heart disease and strokes,” she says.
Dr. Volgman cautions that the study wasn’t well-conducted because it didn’t track soda consumption through the entire 10 years. She also points out that many of the study participants had pre-existing heart disease risk factors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
But earlier studies have questioned the health effects of diet soda, too. Those have linked the drink to weight gain, metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.
So, what should you do if diet soda is your favorite drink?
Experts say more studies need to be done. In the meantime, Dr. Volgman advises moderation.
“It’s like eating a wonderful piece of candy. It should be a treat and not a regular intake,” she says.
Diet soda-fans are divided about what to do.
“It’s kind of addicting, so I just drink it, anyway,” Elisa Redish says.
“We’re all going to go away, somehow. I just chose mine to be a drink,” Kwame Speller says, laughing.
Every expert CBS 2 interviewed said the findings from the latest study should not force consumers to make wholesale changes in their diet plans. Many say water is the best beverage.
They still suggest diet sodas are better than sugary soft drinks.