In early February, many news outlets published articles with the following or similar headline:
“Drinking two or more diet beverages a day linked to high risk of stroke, heart attacks”
Unfortunately, many will read this article and think that drinking diet soda is as bad for your brain as smoking is for your lungs.
I’m in no way suggesting diet, or regular soda for that matter, should be consumed regularly or exclusively; water is always the best choice. However, when enjoyed occasionally, soda, diet or otherwise, isn’t dangerous and won’t cause you to have a stroke or heart attack.
If you take the time to read past the headline, you will learn that this article is based on a study that asked people to recall how often they drink diet soda. This type of study is notoriously unreliable because it depends on an individual’s memory and honesty. It is also possible, and likely, that some individuals who drink diet drinks very often didn’t admit to it. In this case, they are categorized as non-soda drinkers when they shouldn’t be. Another issue is that many people who have other risk factors, such as obesity and diabetes, make the switch to diet soda to manage their weight or diabetes. Diet soda didn’t increase their risk for stroke or heart attack, their preexisting risk caused them to switch to diet soda.
Some of these and other issues are discussed in the article showing just how misleading the headline is. It is important to always read past the headline, especially when the information could inform decisions you make about your health.
The Bottom Line:
There is no evidence in this study that requires immediate and drastic action. It certainty raises some questions that need to be explored further, but it is safe to say if you enjoy diet soda keep doing it; just choose water most of the time.