According to a study conducted by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, drinking more than two diet sodas, or other artificially sweetened drinks is linked to an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, and early death in women over the age of 50.

In previous research, diet drinks have also been linked with stroke, dementia, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Other research has indicated that there is a relationship between diet beverages and vascular risks.

With so many negative consequences many are asking what is it about these diet beverages that leads to such harsh health problems?

Over 80,000 postmenopausal women participated in this long-term national study. Over the course of about 11 years, participants’ health outcomes were tracked and the number of diet beverages they consumed a day was recorded. By the end of the study, researchers found that women who consumed two or more 12-fluid-ounce diet beverages a day, were 31% more likely to have a clot-based stroke. Additionally researchers found that 29% were more likely to have heart disease. Most interestingly of all, women who drank more than two diet beverages are 16% more likely to die before women who drink one or no diet beverages a week.

Risk for stroke and heart attacks dramatically rose for women if they had no history of heart disease or diabetes and women who were obese or African-American.
Women who were of normal weight or who were considered overweight were no at risk for stroke. As long as the participants body mass index was under 30, there was no association of risk.
While this study and previous research helps to establish a connection between diet beverages and vascular disease, there is no causation. As of right now, these findings are purely observational and there is no evident cause and effect. Researchers are still unable to determine if the link to vascular disease is due to a specific sweetener or beverage.
Due to the lack of cold-hard evidence, many organizations deem non-sugar sweeteners to be a better alternative to actual sugary drinks. Vice president of media and public affairs for the American Beverage Association, William Dermody Jr., argues that artificial sweeteners are a tool for those who want to reduce their sugar consumption.
Dermody isn’t wrong by stating that diet artificial sweeteners are a great tool for those looking to lose weight. The American Heart Association issued a statement last year saying that diet drinks may be an effective strategy to promote weight loss, but only in the short term and for adults, not children.