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A growing number of studies link the consumption of diet soda to weight gain, higher BMI and a host of other potential health problems. Here is a roundup of some of the recent findings:

Calcium loss — A study by Noelle Larson, MD, at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, showed that diet soda leaches calcium from our bodies. Over the course of two days, Larson had 20 healthy young women drink 24 ounces of diet soda. (The control group drank only water.) Three hours after the diet-soda-drinking group had their last soda, Larson analyzed the women’s urine: The diet-soda group lost on average 6.85 milligrams more calcium and 41 milligrams more phosphorous than the water-drinking control group.

Neurological damage — The short-term effects of the synthetic sweetener aspartame, which is used in many diet sodas, can include headaches, mood swings, dizziness and memory loss. But the real danger, says Sharon Fowler, MPH, a researcher at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, might be the long-term, cumulative effects of drinking the artificial sugar substitute. Studies have linked high intake of aspartame to developing lymphoma, leukemia, cancerous tumors of the liver and peripheral nerves, and nerve-cell death within the brain.

Metabolic syndrome — Drinking diet soda increases the risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 34 percent, research indicates. Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms that includes extra weight around the midsection, elevated insulin levels and increased blood pressure. When these symptoms occur together, they put a person at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses.

(For more on diet soda and weight gain, read “Poor Substitutes.”)

Additional Studies (PDFs):

This article originally appeared as “Diet Soda Debacles.” 

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