New research suggests daily diet soda intake might lead to heart attacks or strokes.

Have a diet coke and a stroke! Yeah, probably not the best advertising slogan.

Well this is just fucking great:

Just as you were starting to feel virtuous for having switched from sugary sodas to low- or no-calorie substitutes, a new study comes along suggesting that diet sodas might be bad for your head and your heart.

The study, which followed more than 2,500 New Yorkers for nine or more years, found that people who drank diet soda every day had a 61 percent higher risk of vascular events, including stroke and heart attack, than those who completely eschewed the diet drinks, according to researchers who presented their results today at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles.

via Daily diet soda tied to higher heart attack risk – Health – Diet and nutrition – msnbc.com.

It took a lot of time and willpower to switch from regular sodas to diet and it helped me to lose some weight in the process. As a result, regular sodas now taste like battery acid. Now to learn that I may be increasing my risk for heart attack or stroke by drinking diet makes me wonder why I worried so much about the diabetes from the regular stuff.

That said, the researchers are saying that this is just a preliminary study:

Still, the researchers aren’t ready to tell consumers to skip diet sodas. More studies need to be done before that happens, said the report’s lead author Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“I think diet soda drinkers need to stay tuned,” Gardener said. “I don’t think that anyone should be changing their behaviors based on one study. Hopefully this will motivate other researchers to do more studies.”

The article goes on to say that the researchers weren’t able to account for all the possible factors so while the results seem to implicate diet sodas, it’s not confirmed they are the direct cause:

Does this mean there’s something in diet sodas that hurts our blood vessels? Nobody knows the answer to that question, yet, Gardener said. There could be something else that people who drink diet sodas have in common, she explained.

For example, it’s possible that people who drink diet sodas are replacing those saved sugar calories with other unhealthy choices, Gardener said.

That explanation makes a lot of sense to Dr. Nehal N. Mehta, director of inflammatory risk cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania. Although the researchers know the total calories study volunteers were consuming, they weren’t able to account for unhealthy eating habits, Mehta said.

“Maybe along with the diet soda, people are grabbing a Big Mac and a large fries,” Mehta said. “Soda may not be the villain. It may be the other things people consume in association with diet soda. After all, what goes better with pizza or fries than a soda?”

And I’m definitely guilty of ordering a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, fries, and a diet soda at the local McDonalds on occasion.

I’ve said before I have a hard time just drinking water as I don’t like the way it tastes  — and I know it’s not supposed to have a taste, but it does from the glass or the pipes or what have you — and it’s unsatisfying compared to something with some flavor.

But I suppose it’s time to start weaning myself off of diet sodas the same way I did regular soda. Not just because of this report, but due to others that suggest diet sodas might actually contribute to weight gain (though the evidence for that appears to be lacking as well) and other possible health issues.

In the long run it’s healthier to move toward greater water consumption even if it does bug the hell out of me. This is just one more nudge I can use to convince myself to do it.