Just two glasses of diet drink a day increases the risk of an early death, a World Health Organisation study has shown.
The global study of more than 450,000 adults in 10 countries - including the UK - found that daily consumption of all types of soft drinks was linked with a higher chance of dying young.
But the rates for those drinking artificially-sweetened beverages were significantly higher than those consuming full sugar versions.
The scientists, from the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, said it would be 'prudent' to cut out all soft drinks and have water instead.
And they said taxing sugary drinks – as is done in the UK – could boost diet drink uptake for which the 'long-term' health implications' are unknown.
Experts speaking at the European Society of Cardiology in Paris said people should 'eliminate' soft drinks from their diet.
The research, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, is the largest study to examine links between soft drink consumption and mortality.
Previous smaller studies have suggested a link, but have not found such dramatic differences.
The new research found those who consumed two or more 250ml glasses of diet drink a day had a 26 per increased risk of dying within the next 16 years.
And deaths from cardiovascular disease went up 52 per cent.
For those who had two or more sugary soft drinks a day, the risk of death in the same period was raised by eight per cent.