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Study finds an association between risk for vascular events and diet soda

Interesting study – the researchers controlled for exercise, weight, blood pressure, smoking and other factors correlated to vascular events, including strokes.  So what might be the problem with diet soda? Perhaps the artificial sweetner itself (Aspartame/Nutrasweet?). Drinking sugary soda was not significantly correlated with an increased risk for vascular events.  - Ilene

Study suggests higher stroke risk with diet soda (AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It’s not definitive proof of harm, but new research raises concern about diet soda. It suggests that people who drink it every day have higher risks for stroke and heart attack than those who drink no soda of any kind at all.

The findings come from a federally funded study of about 2,500 adults in the New York City area.

Doctors have no explanation for why diet soda might be risky. It could be that people who drink lots of it also fail to exercise, weigh more or have other risk factors like high blood pressure and smoking. However, the researchers took these factors into account and found the trend remained.

Continue here: The Associated Press: Study suggests higher stroke risk with diet soda.

According to "Diet Soda May Heighten Risk for Vascular Events," the risk for "stroke, myocardial infarction, and vascular death," were elevated in the group that drank diet sodas every day. "People who had diet soda every day experienced a 61% higher risk of vascular events than those who reported drinking no soda," lead investigator Hannah Gardener, ScD, an epidemiologist from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, told reporters attending a news conference here at the International Stroke Conference.

Soda study spills Diet Coke on red dress event

Details and limitations

Specifically, the University of Miami study (which followed more than 2,500 men and women aged 40 and older for an average of about nine years) found that people who drank diet soda daily were 61 percent more likely to experience a cardiovascular event than people who drank no diet soda.

That increase in risk held up after controlling for such factors as age, sex, smoking, physical activity and calories consumed each day. Even after the researchers controlled for metabolic syndrome and a history of heart disease, the people who drank diet soda daily had a 48 percent increased risk of having a stroke or heart attack compared to their non-diet soda drinking peers.

Surprisingly (because it contradicts other research), this study did not find any increased risk of stroke and heart attack among people who drank regular soda daily.

OK. OK. This study has all sorts of limitations. To begin with, it relied on the participants reporting their soda and other health-related habits, an unreliable source of data. Furthermore, it’s an observational study, which means it can only show an association between two things, not a cause and effect. It could very well be that people who drink diet soda do other things — perhaps involving the types of foods they eat — that raise their risk of heart disease. In addition, the study hasn’t been published anywhere, so it has yet to go through peer review. Its authors, from the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, presented an abstract of their findings at a medical conference on Wednesday.

Full article here >

The Deadly Neurotoxin Nearly EVERYONE Uses Daily 

By Dr. Joseph Mercola 

According to statistics published by Forbes Magazine [i] based on Tate & Lyle estimates, aspartame had conquered 55 percent of the artificial sweetener market in 2003. One of the driving factors behind aspartame’s market success is the fact that since it is now off patent protection, it’s far less expensive than other artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda).

2010-08-03-pie_chart_sweeteners_v2.jpg

Today, the statistics on the aspartame market are being kept so close to the vest, it has proven to be virtually impossible to find current data on usage, unless you’re willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a market analysis reports and I felt there were better uses for the money than to purchase the answer to that question.

However, a 2009 FoodNavigator article[ii] cites the current global market for aspartame as being less than 37.5 million pounds and worth $637 million.

According to aspartame.org [iii], diet soda accounts for 70 percent of the aspartame consumed. A 12 ounce can of diet soda contains 180 mg of aspartame, and aspartame users ingest an average of 200 mg per day.

For more information on Aspartame/NutraSweet read Dr. Mercola’s full article here. 

Also check out Segment two and Segment three of this video series.

For more information on the dangers of aspartame, visit http://aspartame.mercola.com.


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  1. Well, Ilene, this is the sort of evidence that brought us smoking and lung cancer, so it’s likely to be about as definitive as it gets. Observational studies can indeed establish cause and effect – there’ve been no randomized clinical trials of smoking and lung cancer, or even prospective studies – but I believe I’ll stay away from smoking, thank you. An observational study by Laura Koutsky in the early 80s, her doctoral dissertation, showed that women who had cervical carcinoma in situ were over 100 times more likely to be infected with 4 different types of wart virus. A study of only 17 women with clear cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina nevertheless showed a clear causal association to in-utero exposure to DES. 
    That said, the bugaboo is always the various alternative hypotheses – what else could be causing this association. The authors do get into all that, even checking for metabolic syndrome. There may well still be something going on, but they’ve taken care of a lot of the usual suspects.
    On peer review, papers presented at a conference like this are indeed peer reviewed before being selected, although not always with the same rigor as with a journal. I have become very cynical about peer review lately though; a lot of it’s about what’s sexy and who knows who.
    Finally, I really don’t know enough about aspartame to evaluate its potential for stroke risk. It is an amino acid, breaks down into glutamate and, ummm, aspartose? Not sure. The studies before marketing were pretty damn cursory – I knew a guy who did one of them. Other than that both aspartate and glutamate are excitatory neurotoxins and have therefore been looked at as a cause of ALS, I don’t know much about them; not really my field – maybe Pharmboy knows this area.


  2. Here’s an abstract of a study I found in pubmed.  Pharmboy doesn’t appear to take this very seriously (from what I can tell via an email). I happen to get very severe headaches from diet soda with aspartame – about 6 oz will do it.  So whatever the effects, I’m very sensitive to that particular one (according to the abstract below: "changes in regional brain concentrations of catecholamines, which include norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine"). 

    Direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain.

    Humphries PPretorius ENaudé H.

    Department of Anatomy, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa.

    Comment in:

     

    Abstract

    The use of the artificial sweetener, aspartame, has long been contemplated and studied by various researchers, and people are concerned about its negative effects. Aspartame is composed of phenylalanine (50%), aspartic acid (40%) and methanol (10%). Phenylalanine plays an important role in neurotransmitter regulation, whereas aspartic acid is also thought to play a role as an excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Glutamate, asparagines and glutamine are formed from their precursor, aspartic acid. Methanol, which forms 10% of the broken down product, is converted in the body to formate, which can either be excreted or can give rise to formaldehyde, diketopiperazine (a carcinogen) and a number of other highly toxic derivatives. Previously, it has been reported that consumption of aspartame could cause neurological and behavioural disturbances in sensitive individuals. Headaches, insomnia and seizures are also some of the neurological effects that have been encountered, and these may be accredited to changes in regional brain concentrations of catecholamines, which include norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine. The aim of this study was to discuss the direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain, and we propose that excessive aspartame ingestion might be involved in the pathogenesis of certain mental disorders (DSM-IV-TR 2000) and also in compromised learning and emotional functioning.


  3. Hmmm – seems reasonable that some people would be sensitive to the stuff, although there are some groups who like to indulge in drama around various chemicals. My take, from a fairly uninformed perspective, is that aspartame likely does have some unpleasant effects, but I doubt it’s as widespread and severe a problem as it’s sometimes built up to be. I do think we’re pretty damn careless about the processing of our processed food, and when people are rewarded for cheating, you get things like the Chinese pet food manufacturers throwing melamine into the mix to boost protein content.  I doubt very  much any amount of  noise will do much other than to convince some people to stay away from stuff like diet pop….for me, it has a diuretic effect, and tastes metallic because my genes allow me to taste that. So, your genes giving you a headache from the stuff is very believable.
    By the way, I used to use pubmed for scholarly searches; now I find google scholar (it’s on a pulldown menu on the main page) does a better, broader job.


  4. Hi Snow, I have not researched aspartame to any significant degree since the headache makes it unnecessary to even think about drinking diet soda, however just based on logic and bit of school in nutrition (a pharmacology and nutrition program many years ago), I tend to assume most chemicals and processing are not ultimately a good thing, while at this point – not having diabetes or risk factors – I can deal with some sugar.  I taste the metalic taste too – are you a taster or super taster?  Thanks for the note on google scholar, will try that next time. – Ilene