French people

Warning to all Diet Cola fans as drink ‘increases risk of life-threatening conditions’

DIET soft drinks increase your risk of heart disease and stroke by 10%, according to one study.

Less than a can a day could be enough to harm your health.

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Scientists have found that less than a can of sugar-free soft drink a day could be bad for your healthCredit: Alamy

Millions of Britons drink sugar-free sugary drinks because they contain zero calories.

But scientists at France’s National Institute of Health say it’s wrong to consider artificial sweeteners a completely safe substitute for sugar.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, lead author Dr Mathilde Touvier said: “This study suggests an association between higher consumption of artificial sweeteners and an increased risk of heart disease.

“Artificial sweeteners are found in thousands of food and drink brands around the world.

“However, they remain a controversial topic and are currently being reassessed by health agencies.”

The study said 77.6 mg of sweetener per day was average for a “heavy consumer” and 7.5 mg per day was low.

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An average diet soft drink contains 42mg per 100ml, she added – 140mg per can.

This means that half a box may be bad for you.

Data from 130,000 French people revealed that a third of people regularly consume the sugar exchanges, which include aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame potassium.

High consumers of sweeteners had a rate of heart disease of 346 per 100,000, or 10% higher than 314 per 100,000 for the lowest.

Their stroke rate was 195 versus 150, an increase of 30%.

Dr Touvier added: “These food additives, consumed daily by millions of people, should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar.”

NHS advice says sweeteners are safe and can help keep blood sugar low for diabetics and reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Tracy Parker of the British Heart Foundation said more research into sweeteners was needed.

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She said: ‘Approval before they can be added to food is a rigorous process, so you can be sure they are safe to eat.

“While these results shouldn’t worry you too much, it’s always a good idea to watch the amount of sugar and sweeteners in your diet.”