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Bubble, bubble, diet soda trouble

Diet soda can help satiate sweets cravings without the calories, but research has cast doubt on just how healthy these drinks are. Here’s what experts are saying about diet soda:

It can hurt your teeth. Diet soda doesn’t contain sugar, so your choppers should be OK, right? Wrong. All soda is acidic, which can damage enamel (your teeth’s surface) and lead to decay.

It might make you fat. Studies have suggested that drinking diet soda regularly may lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. In fact, in a long-term study of almost 3,700 people, those who drank an average of three or more artificially sweetened beverages a day were more likely to gain weight than their neighbors who didn’t. Why? Diet soda may trick the brain with a sweet taste but no calories, messing with brain signals and not fully satisfy your cravings. Still, researchers point out that the results don’t prove diet soda actually causes obesity.

It may hurt your kidneys. A Nurses’ Health Study found that, for unknown reasons, women who drank two or more diet sodas a day over two decades decreased kidney function by 30 percent. On the flip side, research from Massachusetts General Hospital found that citrus-flavored diet sodas provide citrate, a compound that can inhibit stone growth. Researchers are studying whether people who are prone to kidney stones may benefit from drinking these sodas.

It could damage your bones. Some experts say phosphorus in soda can cause calcium excretion, reducing bone mass and increasing your risk of fracture. But the National Institutes of Health says it could just be that people are replacing calcium-rich, bone-building milk with soda.

While scientists sort out the diet soda matter, take the advice of many experts and occasionally consume diet soda, and make water and low-fat milk your beverages of choice.