Nightly News   |  March 30, 2014

Study Suggests Link Between Diet Soda and Heart Disease

Older women who consumed more diet beverages had higher rates of cardio events.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> holt: we´re back with health news and a study that came out this weekend, suggesting a correlation between heart disease and consuming diet drinks. the research was presented at a meeting of the american college of cardiology in washington. we get more tonight from nbc´s kristen dahlgren.

>> dahlgren: for many americans...

>> woman: actually, that´s all i drink.

>> dahlgren: ...diet drinks...

>> woman: i drink at least two or three a day.

>> dahlgren: ...are a daily staple.

>> woman: i drink it because it has less calories, and i´m always watching my weight.

>> dahlgren: but a new study says older women who drink more diet drinks may have a higher risk of heart disease .

>> vyas: women who consume two or more diet drinks had higher rates of cardiovascular events.

>> dahlgren: the women ´s health initiative study looked at 60,000 postmenopausal women over a 9-year span. the women who consumed two or more diet drinks per day were 30% more likely to experience a cardiovascular event and 50% more likely to die from related heart disease than women who never or rarely drank diet drinks. researchers caution, it may not be a direct cause and effect . the women may be choosing diet drinks to compensate for other unhealthy habits. the researchers did note that the women drinking more diet drinks often did have more risk factors .

>> vyas: a higher proportion of women with a history of diabetes, a higher proportion of women with a history of high blood pressure . they also, on average, consumed higher calories.

>> dahlgren: in a statement, the american beverage association said, because of other factors, it is impossible to attribute their cardiovascular-health issues to their diet-beverage intake. but for researchers looking into the science of heart disease , it is at least cracking the surface.

>> vyas: it raises a challenge to the scientific community to look at this further. and, hopefully, in the near future, we will have a definitive answer to this question.

>> dahlgren: a question that has many wondering whether their favorite drink could have bitter consequences. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york.