A New Diet Soda Danger

Diet soda has already gotten a bad rap since it’s been linked to packing on excess pounds. In fact, the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging found that after 10 years of observation, diet soda drinkers had 70 percent greater increases in waist measurements than those who abstained.

What’s more, Northwestern University researchers found that people who are obese tend to consume more diet soda than the regular stuff, while a study from Purdue University suggests that artificial sweeteners, such as the ones found in diet soda, may actually make your metabolism less efficient.

THE STUDY, EXPLAINED: Fake Sugars Cause Weight Gain

Now a new study shows that downing diet soda isn’t just bad for your waistline—it could also be a serious heart health hazard.

The latest research from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center suggests that daily diet soda drinkers may be at increased risk of suffering vascular “events“—and we’re not talking about romantic interludes. Think stroke, heart attack and vascular death. While researchers were quick to point out that their results demanded further research, it is compelling that the data was collected from 2,564 participants over a decade-long period. Suddenly, that diet soda looks a lot more sinister.

MORE: Should There Be a Diet Soda Tax? 

But don’t despair if you can’t imagine parting with your favorite diet drink: The study also found that occasional consumption wasn’t such a big deal. (We’re talking imbibing between one a month and six a week.) What’s more, non-sugar free soda drinkers were not more likely to suffer vascular events, giving credence to the idea that when you’re going to treat yourself, ain’t nothing like the real thing.

Bottom line: Next time you’re hit with a craving for diet soda, be mindful of your waistline and heart—and opt for seltzer instead.