Dubai, UAE: Women who drink diet soda to try to lose weight may be doing themselves more harm than good because they contain artificial sweeteners and preservatives, doctors have said.
"It is paradoxical that women are suffering from heart problems due to drinking diet sodas," said Dr Rajeev Lochan, specialist interventional cardiologist at the Saudi-German Hospital.
He was responding to a study published last week in the US that found women who drink diet soda are more likely to develop heart disease, and even die. Research showed that women who drink two or more diet drinks per day were 30 per cent more likely to have a heart attack, and that 50 per cent are more likely to die than women who do not drink diet sodas.
But the findings do not suggest the drinks themselves are the killers. Fizzy drinks in general are bad for your health because of the carbon dioxide content, said Dr Lochan.
"There are also other chemicals present in these drinks that are harmful to health," he said.
Women who drink too many diet sodas may be trying to make up for their unhealthy habits, believing that diet drinks will help curtail their calorie intake. One doctor said those who drank a lot of fizzy diet drinks were also more likely to smoke, be overweight, have diabetes and high blood pressure.
Sakina Mustansir, registered dietician at the Prime Medical Centre in Dubai, believes women who drink diet sodas may be neglecting to drink milk and water. "These [diet drinks] are basically chemical water," she said. "Though there is no sugar content, they contain phosphoric acid. By indulging in these drinks, these women may not be getting enough calcium that is required for a healthy heart," she said.
Another heart doctor from Dubai, Dr Brajesh Mittal, interventional cardiologist at Al Garhoud Private Hospital, gave an example of a man who suffered from heart palpitations because he was in the habit of downing three or four litres of cola a day. Studies have shown drinking more than three cups of coffee or one can of energy drink or a cola can quicken the heart beat and make one anxious and jittery.
"Any kind of soda is harmful," he said. "It can also cause acidity and irritability [in the stomach]," he said. Atrial Fibrillation or sudden irregular heartbeats, said Dr Mittal, is a disease of the elderly but can also occur due to bad diet choices. Irregular heartbeat can make one dizzy and breathless and sometimes cause pain in the chest.
Dr Nooshin Bazargani, consultant cardiologist at Dubai Hospital, said she could not comment on the US study, but said that women in the UAE suffer from heart disease at a younger age than in the West. "It is a misconception that women are less susceptible to heart disease and die more from cancer. That is not true."
She cited diabetes and growing obesity, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle among women as the major risk factors for heart disease and heart attacks.
Dr Lochan said women are protected until the menopause from heart disease but catch up with men after it.
© Gulf NewsApr 2014