A new study presented to the American Stroke Association shows a link between diet soda consumption and higher rates of stroke and heart disease.
According to the study, people who reported drinking diet soda every day had a 60% higher rate of these cardiovascular diseases. (60% higher than what isn’t clear: It could be 60% higher than those who don’t ever drink soda, 60% higher than the population at large, or 60% higher than those who don’t drink daily. It’s not clear, because the study’s not yet published.)
But pretty much anyone who’s heard of this study so far expresses skepticism. Presumably the statistic itself is correct-probably there’s a 60% higher rate of stroke and heart disease for people who drink a daily diet soda. But presumably the diet soda itself isn’t causing the higher risk of these diseases.
They’re skeptical because we’ve heard no plausible reason why diet sodas would contribute to stroke and heart disease. There doesn’t even seem to be a theory out there.
More likely, drinking a diet soda every day merely tracks deeper behavioral problems. Maybe a bad general diet causes people to hunger more for sweets, whether they be real sugar or a synthetic substitute. Maybe the sweetness of the diet soda makes people pine more for sweets in everything they eat, at least some of which contains real sugar. Maybe these people are sleep deprived, and turning to diet soda for caffeine. Maybe they’re stressed out and it gives them a quick, refreshing break. Or maybe drinking a diet soda every day signals a deeper addictive susceptibility that hurts these people’s health in other ways.
We should know more once the study is released publicly. Until then we have to wonder.
Why do you think people who drink a daily diet soda have a higher risk of heart disease?