NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Many people make the switch to diet soda to be a bit healthier when they indulge, but a new study suggests that diet soda drinkers could be more susceptible to heart disease or a stroke.

The average American consumes 57 gallons of soft drinks each year, according to the Global Market Information Database.

Exactly how much of that consists of diet drinks isn’t clear, but a new study by Columbia University and the University of Miami shows diet sodas may be more dangerous, reports CBS 2’s Don Dahler.

Dr. Mitchell Elkind was one of the lead researchers of the study.

“What our study shows is that drinking diet soda may be associated with an increased risk of vascular events, by which we mean strokes, heart attacks, and other causes of death that can be due to vascular disease,” Dr. Elkind said.

The nine-year study involved more than 2,500 people of different ethnicities in northern Manhattan. The study found that those who drank diet soda every day had a 61 percent higher risk of crippling diseases like stroke or heart disease.

The study also found a 48 percent increase in stroke, heart attack or cardiovascular-related death for those who drank diet soda when all other factors were held constant.

What’s not yet clear is if there’s a chemical in diet sodas causing these diseases, or if people who drink diet sodas are also more likely to have other behaviors that contribute to bad health.

“It could be due to the fact that people who drink diet beverages may not realize how much they’re eating of other foods, because they don’t get the fullness or sense of satiety that they get from eating sugar beverages,” Dr. Elkind said.

Earlier studies have called into question whether diet sodas actually help you lose weight, but one thing Dr. Elkind is not ready to say is that sugary drinks are better for you than diet drinks.

“We should probably be drinking water, healthy juices, things like that that don’t have artificial sweeteners or excess sweeteners in them,” he said.

Dr. Elkind said there’s still more research to be done, but consumers should think twice about what they grab the next time they get thirsty.

CBS 2 reached out to the American Beverage Association for comment, and after reviewing the research, they disagreed that the study shows a link between diet sodas and strokes.

“It appears that the investigators failed to control for two important variables – family history of stroke and weight gain – in their analysis,” the statement said.

Comments (29)
  1. Darla Baroumes says:

    At a nearby carwash I was seated next to a gentleman who asked if I had purchased a regular or diet drink from the lobby machine. (He couldn’t fully see the can because it was on a table next to me. Before I could answer him he went on to tell me that he never drinks diet soda. When I asked why he didn’t, he replied that he doesn’t because he sells the chemicals that go into the diet drinks. I found it interesting that he bothered to bring up the subject.

    1. Darla says:

      Please delete me last name from the comment

      1. DRB says:

        Please delete my last name from my comment

  2. Stephanie says:

    We are looking to also create a page like this for our dieting website. Can anyone help?

  3. sologratia says:

    GOD(JESUS) created this enviroment(originally perfect)for us humans, then created our bodies out of this enviroment. He gave us directions for what is the best for us both spiritually & physically. The farther we get from the Manufacturer & HIS original intent(s), the more problematic! Following the Maker’s Manual(the Bible) will only benefit us both eternally & temporally, both now & forever!

  4. Clamcollege says:

    “The nine-year study involved more than 2,500 people of different ethnicities in northern Manhattan”. —Northern Manhattan = alot more stressful than, say, South Carolina or Oregon. Not necessarily, but in general it is alot more stresful.
    The study should have been 1. more geographically varied, 2. had separate studies done for caffeinated and non-caffeinated sodas, and as witchy-poo said 3. looked at how family histories of stroke + heart attack + weight gain related to those who had strokes + heart-attacks.

  5. James Boral says:

    This is why i only drink Red Bull.

  6. ot says:

    I need to credit the website Women to Women for some of the information used in my previous comment. Other websites such as – were also used.

  7. ot says:

    Aspartame (NutraSweet) and Splenda (Sucralose) have a long list of side effects. Unfortunately the soft drink industry, and the folks at NutraSweet and Splenda try very hard to dismiss and discredit anyone and any science showing that these are dangerous chemical additives. Splenda shut down many of the websites that questioned its safety. Splenda is the trade name for sucralose, a synthetic compound stumbled upon in 1976 by scientists in Britain seeking a new pesticide formulation. It is true that the Splenda molecule is comprised of sucrose (sugar) — except that three of the hydroxyl groups in the molecule have been replaced by three chlorine atoms. So, is Splenda safe? Truth is that we just don’t know. There are no long-term studies of the side effects of Splenda in humans. The manufacturer’s own short-term studies showed that very high doses of sucralose caused shrunken thymus glands, enlarged livers, and kidney disorders in rodents. A more recent study also shows that Splenda significantly decreases beneficial gut flora. Other reasons for concern: in the eleven years after Splenda was put on the market, no independent studies of sucralose lasting more than six months have been done in humans. Second, none of the trials that were done was very large — the largest was 128 people studied for three months, making us wonder, what happens when you’ve used sucralose for a year, for five years or ten? Almost all of the independent research into aspartame (NutraSweet) found dangerous side effects in rodents. The FDA chose not to take these findings into account when it approved aspartame for public use. Over the course of 15 years, those same side effects increasingly appeared in people.As food additives, artificial sweeteners are not subject to the same gauntlet of FDA safety trials as pharmaceuticals. Most of the testing is funded by the food industry, which has a vested interest in the outcome. This can lead to misleading claims on both sides. There is no “free lunch”. Real food has calories, chemicals usually don’t. There are over 14,000 chemical additives used in foods. How they react to one another in our bodies has never been studied. Stands to reason that some of these chemicals are going to be toxic to humans, and depending on the FDA to regulate the safety of these food additives is futile. One thing is certain: some of the chemicals that comprise artificial sweeteners are known hazards – the degree to which you experience side effects just depends on your individual biochemistry. Manufacturers are banking on the fact that our bodies won’t absorb very much of these compounds at any one time. And many of us don’t. But what happens when we are ingesting a combination of artificial sweeteners like Splenda dozens of times a week through many different “low–sugar” or “sugar free” products.

  8. so gender. says:

    watch what goes into your system when you want to leave long and healthy.

  9. MartinF says:

    You mean criminal extraordinare, Kevin Trudeau, convicted thief and fraud, who traded in his early criminal enterprises for an immoral publishing empire that now regularly hides behind the first amendment to peddle lies and falsehoods to a gullible and paranoid public (which is merely immoral but not illegal)? That Trudeau?

    Or were you referring to Gary Trudeau who wrote something in Doonesbury about soft drinks 8 years ago that I happened to miss at the time?

  10. LOL over this says:


  11. J says:

    Heres the thing; diet soda contains caffeine. DUH! Could this be a contributing factor. I would imagine so, if you drink soda several times a day.

  12. WitchyPoo says:

    OMG — will you aspartame-obsessed, fear-mongering lemon-heads please shut up already? Only an ignorant fool would read this article and jump to the conclusion that it must be aspartame (and, aspartame is not the only sweetener in diet sodas — not even remotely true today) Please learn how to interpret reports about scientific findings before popping off your mouth with absolutely foolish conclusion like so many are doing here.

    1) This study needs to be replicated first before it has any meaning whatsoever.
    2) This was merely a preliminary study to establish a correlation. It does NOT even attempt to establish any causes….so to leap up and shout ASPARTAME at this point is not only wrong, it is foolishly negligent.
    3) this study did not take into account family history of stroke or weight gain (not a critique of the study, but an important observation to be taken into account here) — since both variables have been linked directly to heart health it might very likely end up accounting for ALL of the findings reported here.

    1. braniff says:

      Lighten up sweetie. This is an open forum to discuss different opinions & thoughts.

      Name calling does not add to your credibility.

      1. WitchyPoo says:

        Thanks so much for your feckless advice and obtuse instruction! I often wonder how on Earth I would ever get through the day without people like you in it.

    2. vengeance says:

      You remind me of my ex wife. Just dumb arrogant name calling. I used to call her something close to WitchyPoo.

      1. WitchyPoo says:

        …and you being a half-wit misogynist had nothing to do with your break up, I am sure.

  13. John says:

    People who drink sodas are morons. The best drink for you is plain water, and guess what! From both an environmental and health point of view, filtered tap water is way better than bottled water (some bottled waters have been shown to be less pure than tap water in American cities and the discarded plastic bottles are an environmental disaster!).

    1. Steve says:

      People who think people who drink sodas are morons are morons.

    2. Pizza lover says:

      John you are absolutely right.. At home we drink filtered tap water. When on the run, we need bottled water. But please be honest, WHO DOES NOT LIKE TO EAT PIZZA AND A NICE COLD COCA COLA??? They go together!!!

  14. shostak says:

    WE NEED TO BAN ASPARTAME NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    IT IS KILLING PEOPLE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Ellen says:

    Just because they put Diet in front of it doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

  16. aldous huxley says:

    Dear Lord, how stupid are these people?

    They’re wondering if there’s a chemical component linked to this?

    YES – it is called aspartame. It is the artificial sweetener in virtually all diet sodas. And guess what – it is a poison – it is essentially embalming fluid.

    And believe it or not, who do we have to thank for aspartame? None other than Donald Rumsfeld. The FDA had banned aspartame, but while Rumsfeld was the CEO of Searle (who manufactured aspartame), he was able to use his influence to get it cleared.

    This is the absolute truth. All the research on this is available online – check it out for yourselves.

  17. Delilah says:

    Ut oh here come all the bad on your health reports to support them being taxed. Sugary drinks will soon be the new cigarette tax.

  18. justin0217 says:

    “BS 2 reached out to the American Beverage Association for comment, and after reviewing the research, they disagreed that the study shows a link between diet sodas and strokes.” Of course ABA would disagree, though it could be true. You cannot expect them to say “Yes we are making money in making you sick.”

  19. fiddlehead says:

    Trudeau said this at least 8 years ago.
    I haven’t had one since.
    That stuff is poison.

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