One of the largest studies of its kind recently examined the link between diet drinks and cardiovascular issues such as heart attack and stroke in healthy, postmenopausal women. The research took place at the University of Iowa, and the findings were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session in Washington, D.C.
60,000 women participated in the study, and it found that women who consumed two or more diet drinks a day are 30 percent more likely to experience a cardiovascular event, and 50 percent more likely to die from a related disease.
These are huge numbers, even if you are thinking correlation does not mean causation. When using the Bradford Hill criteria to evaluate the relationship between diet drinks and human health, it becomes quite clear that the danger is at least worth considering. It’s a great example of how potentially deadly, unhealthy products are marketed to us as a “better alternative” and completely safe.
“This is one of the largest studies on this topic, and our findings are consistent with some previous data, especially those linking diet drinks to the metabolic syndrome.” – Dr. Ankur Vyas, a Fellow in cardiovascular disease at UI Hospitals and Clinics, and the lead investigator of the study.
Again, as mentioned earlier, only an association was found, therefore the researchers cannot state with certainty that diet drinks cause these problems. It’s similar to watching a person eat junk food for one straight year, and another person eating completely healthfully for one year. If the person who ate junk food becomes ill, while the person who ate fruits and vegetables remains (or becomes) healthy, we still cannot say for certain that the junk food caused that person to become ill, from a modern day scientific perspective. This is exactly why I mention the Bradford Hill criteria, because when you look at published research and a wealth of other sources, the picture becomes a little more clear. For example, we can look at studies linking the ingredients within junk food and their potential hazards to human health alongside observational studies like this one.
For this study, researchers divided the 60,000 study participants into four consumption groups: two or more diet drinks a day, five to seven diet drinks per week, one to four diet drinks per week, and zero to three diet drinks per month. After a follow up of 9 years, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, coronary revascularization procedure, ischemic stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and cardiovascular death occurred in 8.5% of the women who consumed two or more diet drinks a day. Those who consumed five-to-seven diet drinks per week were at 6.9% and one-to-four were at 7.2%. Those who consumed one-to-four drinks per week were at 6.8% and zero-to-three drinks a month were at 7.2%.
The study was also adjusted to account for demographic characteristics and other cardiovascular risk factors (genetics, smoking, sugar sweetened beverage intake, and more).
The researchers emphasized how the association between diet drinks and cardiovascular problems raises more questions that it answers, and “should stimulate further research.”
“It’s too soon to tell people to change their behaviour based on this study; however, based on these and other findings we have a responsibility to do more research to see what is going on and further define the relationship, if one truly exists,” says Dr. Ankur Vyas, because “This could have major public health implications.” (source)
It’s time to conduct clinical studies or molecular/pharmacologic analyses to see if there is a direct link between heart health and diet drinks.
Research On Aspartame
A study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology determined that consumption of sugar sweetened soda increases the odds for kidney function decline. You can read the entire study here
Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that aspartame is linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukaemia in men. You can read the full study here, and we also wrote an article on it that you can read here.
A study out of Arizona State University that was published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition determined that Aspartame causes brain damage by leaving traces of Methanol in the blood(source). Another study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine determined that longterm consumption of Aspartame leads to an imbalance in the antioxidant/pro-oxidant status in the brain(source). A study published by Washington University Medical School outlines a possible connection between aspartame and brain tumors.