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Is Diet Soda Linked to Heart, Stroke Risk?

Study Suggests Connection Between Drinking Diet Soda and Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

Study Drawbacks continued...

Philip B. Gorelick, MD, MPH, head of neurology and stoke research at the University of Illinois in Chicago, says the food questionnaire used in the study isn't a good way to gauge people's overall dietary patterns.

"You have to look at what people eat in totality," he tells WebMD. "People who are reducing calories by drinking diet soda may have an unhealthy dietary pattern, consuming a lot of fat and salt, for example. And that won't be picked up using a questionnaire like the one used here."

Storey says there is no diet soda-heart and stroke connection. "There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that diet soda uniquely causes increased risk of vascular events or stroke,” she says in a written statement. “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."

As for why diet soda might be bad for our hearts and brains, Gardener says that's still a big question mark.

Previous research linking regular and diet soda to diabetes and metabolic syndrome, both of which are risk factors for stroke and heart attacks, may offer a clue, she says.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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