By Danielle Serrano
I am always surprised when I see "healthy" people turning to diet soft drinks for thirst, or even as a guilty (and sometimes not-so-guilty) pleasure.
Although there is a lot of conflicting information about the safety of artificial sugars (depending on who funds the research), there have been numerous studies about the safety of that fizzy, calorie-free, artificial drink. Just recently, a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine reported in the New York Times found a possible link between diet soft drinks and cardiovascular disease.
With heart disease being the number one leading cause of death in women today, this research is huge. The harm doesn't stop there.
Heart attack and stroke: That same study found that daily consumption of diet sodas is associated with an increase in stroke, heart attack and even death - serious side effects for a dinner table drink.
In fact, one study reported in Indiana Public Media found that individuals who consumed diet soda daily, had a 48 percent higher risk of stroke or heart attack than those who did not consume soda at all. It is important to note that "the study didn't look at the type of diet soda or the amount consumed, just whether or not subjects drank diet soda everyday".
One long-term study of nurse participants found that diet sodas can have a negative health effect on the kidneys, as reported on NPR. Although this particular study could have been influenced by other contributing factors, it found that diet soda consumption could be associated with decreased kidney function over time.
Liver damage is yet another side effect of diet soda drinking. Livestrong cites a 2009 study published in the Journal of Hepatology that found that, "people who drink about 33 oz. of diet soda per day, roughly three cans, were five-times more likely to develop a fatty liver than those who drank no diet soda."
The list goes on. Last but not least, diet soda is linked to obesity. Although the reasons are unclear, some theorize that because individuals are choosing a calorie-free drink with their meal, they feel that they can consume more calories throughout the day. Diet sodas also perpetuate a desire for sweets.
Looking at the research, it seems as if diet sodas are associated with negatively affecting just about every organ in the body. So diet sodas are the naughty culprit and you'll just switch to regular soda once in a while, right? Think again. There are a handful of researched health risks about sugar-laden regular sodas as well.
Sure, we can't all be perfect, but finding a new guilty pleasure is definitely something to think about. Try being an exercise fiend, a carrot monster, or health food junkie and see what studies say about that!
BAKALAR, N. (n.d.). Diet Soft Drinks Linked to Risk of Heart Disease - NYTimes.com. The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from
Dawson, K. (n.d.). Could Diet Soda Be Tied To Strokes And Heart Attacks? | Earth Eats - Indiana Public Media. Indiana Public Media | News and Information, Music, Arts and Community Events from WFIU and WTIU. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from
Reviewed March 15, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith