Do Diet Drinks Increase Risk of Heart Problems in Older Women?

diet soda

With the increasing rates of diabetes and obesity in the United States today, and the fact that heart disease is the number-one killer, it’s not hard to see why healthy eating trends have become headline news.

Some of the most common health news stories are about foods that you “must avoid” if you want to lead a happy and healthy life. Sometimes it’s hard to know what and who to believe.

One group of foods that health experts agree is not good for you are sugary drinks like soda, energy drinks, and some fruit juices. Diet drinks have long been thought as the answer for people who want something fizzy to drink. However, a recent study suggests that too many diet drinks may increase health problems in older women.

The research

A group of 60,000 women free of heart disease and with an average age of 62 years were all asked to answer questions about how often they drank diet sodas and diet fruit drinks and how much they drank of each.
The women were followed for about 9 years to see if drinking diet drinks led to certain medical conditions such as:

  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Blood vessel disease
  • Heart failure
  • Death from heart problems

The results

The results of the study showed that women who drank 2 or more diet drinks each day, with one drink being equal to 12 ounces, were more likely to develop heart-related conditions than women who drank fewer diet drinks.

In addition, the results also showed that women who drank between 1 and 7 drinks per week had a very slightly increased chance of having one of these health problems compared to women who drank no diet drinks.

What do these results mean?

Diet DrinksThe truth is, there just are not enough facts at this point to say that consuming diet drinks leads to health problems.One of the problems with this study is that those women who drank the most diet soda were also more likely to:

  • Have diabetes
  • Be overweight or obese
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Smoke

Therefore, it’s impossible to know whether the health problems the women developed were the result of drinking diet soda, or from having one or more of thesemedical conditions.

Take home points

  • There is no definite proof that consuming diet drinks causes health problems
  • It is possible that drinking too many diet drinks could increase your risk for some diseases
  • You donot have to give up your diet drinks, but to be on the safe side, you should probably limit the amount you drink to 12-ounces or less each day



Revised by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

(45 Articles)

Dr. Robert Ehrman, MD is a Board Certified Emergency Physician. He completed his training in Emergency Medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT and Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL. He always reminds his patients that the more they take care for their health each day, the less likely they are to visit him again in the ER!

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