According to a recent study, published in the journal Stroke, it was found that drinking diet drinks could possibly increase the risk of having a stroke among post-menopausal women. Caused by a blocked artery, especially small arteries, stroke can turn out to be life-threatening. The association was found after drawing a comparison between women who consumed diet drinks less than once a week or not at all. The study was conducted on 81,714 post-menopausal women aged 50-79 years.
As per the findings of the study, women who drank two or more artificially sweetened beverages per day were 23 percent more likely to have a stroke, 31 percent more likely to have ischemic stroke, and 29 percent were at risk of developing heart disease (fatal or non-fatal heart attack). In addition, there was a 16 percent risk of deaths from any cause.
Apart from this, the risk of stroke doubled in women without previous heart disease or diabetes and obese women without previous heart disease or diabetes.
"Many well-meaning people, especially those who are overweight or obese, drink low-calorie sweetened drinks to cut calories in their diet. Our research and other observational studies have shown that artificially-sweetened beverages may not be harmless and high consumption is associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease," said lead author Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, Associate Professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the US.
However, the results in post-menopausal women may not be generalisable to men or younger women.
"The American Heart Association suggests water as the best choice for a no-calorie beverage," suggested Rachel K. Johnson, Professor at the University of Vermont in the US.
"Since long-term clinical trial data are not available on the effects of low-calorie sweetened drinks and cardiovascular health, given their lack of nutritional value, it may be prudent to limit their prolonged use," Johnson added.