A recent study has allegedly linked diet soft drink consumption with an increased risk of vascular events. Hannah Gardener, et al., “Diet Soft Drink Consumption Is Associated with an Increased Risk of Vascular Events in the Northern Manhattan Study,” Journal of General Internal Medicine, February 2, 2012. Researchers evidently collected data from 2,564 adults in the Northern Manhattan Study for a mean follow-up of 10 years, controlling for a variety of factors such as age, race/ethnicity, smoking, BMI, and physical activity. Compared with those who did not consume diet soft drinks, participants who reported drinking diet soft drinks on a daily basis apparently exhibited “an increased risk of vascular events, and this persisted after controlling further for the metabolic syndrome, peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, cardiac disease, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia.”

The study authors noted, however, that many individuals “may consume diet soft drinks in an effort to reduce calories and sugar and lose weight to compensate for an underlying risk of vascular disease.” Therefore, they emphasized the need for further research, including large prospective studies and randomized trials, to rule out “reverse confounding, or indication bias, such that people at increased risk of vascular events due to preexisting vascular conditions may be advised to switch from regular to diet soft drinks.”

“Future studies in younger populations in which diet soft drink consumption is more prevalent are particularly important, as are studies examining the associations between all beverages, including other non-soft drink sugar-sweetened and diet beverages, and vascular events,” the study concludes. “In addition, further study is needed on the potential mechanisms by which diet soft drinks may affect the risk of vascular events.”

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