It's long been known that sugar-sweetened drinks raise a person's risk of Type 2 diabetes. But now, a new study from French researchers at Inserm suggests sugar-free diet drinks could also play a role.
The research, to be published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows an association between consumption of "light" or diet soda and increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
The study involved 66,118 women, whose beverage habits were tracked over 14 years. The women self-reported their consumption of 100 percent juice, sugar-sweetened drinks and artificially sweetened drinks.
By the end of the study period, 1,369 of the women were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that on average, the women consumed more diet drinks than sugar-sweetened drinks -- 328 milliliters each week of sugar-sweetened beverages and 568 milliliters each week of artificially sweetened beverages.
Both diet and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption was linked with a higher risk of developing diabetes, researchers found. But interestingly enough, when comparing diabetes risk between the diet soda drinkers and regular soda drinkers, the diet drinkers had an even higher risk of diabetes.
Meanwhile, the women who only reported drinking 100 percent juice did not have an increased risk of diabetes, according to the study.
Of course, it's important to note that the researchers only found an association -- it's not known whether the artificial sweeteners in the diet drinks actually case diabetes, or if people who are already prone to diabetes tend to drink more diet drinks (perhaps in an effort to decrease their sugar intake).
But Yahoo! Shine noted that the women who drank more artificially sweetened drinks also craved sugar more than those drinking the regular drinks, which could explain the association.
Past research on the subject has been mixed. A study conducted by Harvard University researchers did not find an association between diet soda intake and diabetes risk, instead linking the increased diabetes risk with other factors that might spur someone to drink diet in the first place (like being overweight), Reuters reported.
"People who are at risk for diabetes or obesity ... those may be the people who are more likely to choose artificial sweeteners because they may be more likely to be dieting," Dr. Rebecca Brown, a government endocrinologist not involved in that research, told Reuters.
But regardless of whether diet sodas really do bring on diabetes or not, maybe we should be cutting back on the beverage for other health reasons. Past studies have linked it with weight gain, and increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
Want to kick the diet soda habit, but not sure how? Read senior editor Laura Schocker's take on how she quit the beverage (and her tips for how you can, too).