There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that diet soda uniquely causes increased risk of vascular events or stroke.
In response to an abstract presented today at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2011, Dr. Maureen Storey, senior vice president of science policy for the American Beverage Association said:
"There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that diet soda uniquely causes increased risk of vascular events or stroke. It is important to recognize that this is an abstract - not a peer-reviewed, published study - that was presented at a conference; however, even the abstract itself does not support a link between diet soda consumption and risk of stroke. In fact, the partial statistical analysis shown in the abstract does not show significant stroke risk between those who drank diet soda daily and those who drank diet soda less often.¹ Furthermore, it appears that the investigators failed to control for two important variables - family history of stroke and weight gain - in their analysis.
According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, heart disease and stroke risk factors that can be controlled are high blood pressure or hypertension; abnormal blood cholesterol levels; tobacco use; diabetes; overweight; and physical inactivity. Risk factors beyond our control include age, that is being 55 years and older for men and 65 years or older for women; family history of early heart disease; or family history of stroke.
The body of scientific evidence does show that diet soft drinks can be a useful weight management tool, a position supported by the American Dietetic Association. Thus, to suggest that they are harmful with no credible evidence does a disservice to those trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Importantly, our industry supports and encourages healthy lifestyles by providing consumers with myriad beverage choices in a wide range of calories so they can choose the beverage that is right for them."
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The American Beverage Association is the trade association representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States.
¹Stroke 2011, 42(3):e273; pg. 163; "A marginally significant increased risk of vascular events was also observed among those who consumed diet soda daily and regular soda once or more per month (adjusted RR=1.74, 95% CI 0.96-3.16)."
Read the ABA blog for more on this abstract:
"Diet Soda Study Ignores Big Risk Factor" (February 11, 2011)
"Reckless Science on Diet Soda: Putting Headlines Before Health" (February 10, 2011)