| WASHINGTON, March 29
WASHINGTON, March 29 Diet drinks may increase
the risk of heart attacks, stroke and other heart problems in
postmenopausal women, according to an informal study that could
take some fizz out of enjoyment of the popular beverages.
Compared to women who never or seldom consume diet drinks,
those who drank two or more a day were 30 percent more likely to
suffer a cardiovascular event and 50 percent more likely to die
from related disease, researchers found.
The findings were gleaned from an analysis of diet drink
intake and consequences among almost 60,000 participants in the
Women's Health Initiative, a long-running U.S. observational
study of cardiovascular health trends among postmenopausal
"Our findings are in line with and extend data from previous
studies showing an association between diet drinks and metabolic
syndrome," said Dr. Ankur Vyas of the University of Iowa
Hospitals and Clinics, lead investigator of the study. The
syndrome is associated with a cluster of risk factors for heart
disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and
Results of the study were presented at the annual scientific
sessions of the American College of Cardiology, in Washington.
The average age of women in the diet drink study was 62.8,
and they had to have had no history of cardiovascular disease to
be included in the analysis.
Through a questionnaire, the women were asked to report
their diet drink consumption over the previous three months. A
drink was defined as a 12-ounce beverage and included both diet
sodas and diet fruit drinks.
After an average followup of 8.7 years, a combination of
negative outcomes including coronary heart disease, congestive
heart failure, heart attack, ischemic stroke, peripheral
arterial disease and cardiovascular death were seen in some 8.5
percent of women who consumed two or more diet drinks a day.
That compared with 6.9 percent of women who had five to
seven drinks per week, 6.8 percent having one to four drinks per
week, and 7.2 percent in those having zero to three diet drinks
"We only found an association, so we can't say that diet
drinks cause these problems," Vyas said, adding that other
factors may explain the apparent connection between diet drink
consumption and risk of heart attack and stroke.
For instance, he noted that women who consumed two or more
diet drinks per day were younger, more prone to be smokers, and
had a higher prevalence of diabetes, high blood pressure and of
Vyas said more studies are needed to more closely assess the
risk of diet sodas and cardiovascular risks, if such a
connection actually exists.
Previous studies have suggested a connection between
artificially sweetened drinks and weight gain in adults and
teens, and a likely increase in metabolic syndrome.
(Editing by James Dalgleish)