FOR those with a sweet tooth, diet fizzy drinks are generally thought of as a better alternative than the sugar-laden versions.
But while they are lower in calories, guzzling artificially-sweetened beverages could come at another cost.
Experts have warned that diet drinks could increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and even dementia.
Research this year revealed that drinking two or more cans a day ups the risk of stroke by a quarter and heart disease by a third.
And compared with people who never touch them, the risk of early death is 16 per cent higher for diet drink guzzlers.
The findings, published in the journal Stroke, were based on a big study of women and show that those who are obese and downing diet drinks more than doubles the risk of stroke.
Dr Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, lead author of the study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, did stress while their findings suggest a link, they couldn’t prove diet drinks cause stroke and heart problems.
Another study previously found a link between drinking artificially sweetened beverages and dementia.
The US study claimed those who drank a can of artificially-sweetened pop daily were at 2.9 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
The team from Boston University School of Medicine also found it put people at three times the risk of suffering the most common form of stroke compared to non-drinkers.
However, after accounting for all lifestyle factors, the researchers deemed the link to dementia statistically insignificant.
The impact on stroke risk remained, they said.
But the findings, published back in 2017, were dismissed by some British authorities, while others have called for more investigation.
Researchers also believe that consuming diet fizzy drinks in high quantities could damage blood vessels and lead to chronic inflammation, according to Medical News Daily.
Artificial sweeteners have also been found to boost appetite – and make you want to eat more, so could put you at higher risk of conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital found the sweetener aspartame – found in some diet drinks – actually increases the risk of piling on the pounds.
According to their report published online in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, this is because the sugar substitute’s breakdown product, phenylalanine, disrupts the metabolic rate and consequently ups the chances of weight gain.
A separate study in fruit flies and mice, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, found the mismatch between sweet taste and fewer calories sends the body into “feed me” mode.
The Australian researchers found that when sweetness and energy was outbalanced for a prolonged time the brain compensated, sending signals in a bid to increase the number of calories consumed.
When given the chance, the insects and animals responded by eating more.
British nutritionists however said that the results might not be the same for humans and added that low calorie sweetened food can help people keep weight off.