Diet Drinks Linked to Stroke, Heart Disease in Older Women

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WOMEN WHO DRINK MORE than one artificially flavored drink a day are at a higher risk for stroke and heart disease.

A study by the American Heart Association found that post-menopausal women who drink multiple diet drinks a day had an increased risk for stroke caused by a blocked artery. The association was even stronger among African-American women and women who were obese.

Researchers analyzed almost 82,000 women aged 50 to 79 years old over 11 years. Of the participants, 5.1 percent reported consuming more than two artificially sweetened beverages a day.

Compared to women who consumed less than one diet beverage a week or none at all, women who drank diet beverages frequently were 23 percent more likely to have a stroke, 31 percent more likely to have an ischemic stroke, 29 percent more likely to develop heart disease and 16 percent more likely to die from any cause.

The consumption of two or more of these beverages daily more than doubled the risk of a stroke caused by a blockage of small arteries in the brain for certain women who had never had heart disease or diabetes. Otherwise healthy women were 2.44 times as likely to have this type of stroke, obese women were 2.03 times as likely, and African-American women were 3.93 times as likely.

Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, author and professor of clinical epidemiology and population health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said in a press release that “well-meaning people” often turn to diet drinks to cut calories, but the “beverages may not be harmless.”

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