Study finds diet soda may raise your risk of stroke and dementia


"Swapping out sugary drinks and foods for those containing no- and low-calorie sweeteners remains a valuable tool for people looking to cut calories in order to reach their weight loss goals".

"In our community-based cohort, higher consumption of artificially sweetened soft drink was associated with an increased risk of both stroke and dementia", the study read.

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine looked at data from about 4,400 people from the town of Framingham, Massachusetts.

The participants were overwhelmingly white, and it is possible that ethnic preferences may influence how often people select sugary or artificially sweetened drinks, Pase said. Looking at 2,888 people older than 45 years old for incidents of stroke and 1,484 people 60 and older for evidence of dementia, the team recorded beverage consumption at three different points in time over the course of seven years. But after accounting for all lifestyle factors, the researchers found the link to dementia was statistically insignificant, however, the impact on stroke risk remained.

However, the researchers stressed that while their findings do not prove that diet sodas and sugary drinks directly caused the patterns of brain damage observed, the findings confirm long-held suspicions that people who drink sweetened sodas regularly are at greater risk of brain-related health complications.

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In addition to being an observational study which can not prove cause and effect, the authors note the study several other limitations, including that the overwhelming majority of participants were white. They do not prove any causal link between the consumption of artificially sweetened drinks and stroke or dementia.

People who drink just one can of a diet soft drink daily risk tripling their chance of suffering from a stroke or dementia, according to a study.

People who drank at least one diet soda a day were three times more likely to encounter stroke and 2.9 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.

"Using Food Frequency Questionnaires has its limitations, especially when the participants are asked to report on their eating/drinking habits over the past year", she said.

They also displayed a deficit equivalent to 13-years of age-related deterioration in memory function, compared with people who did not drink sugary beverages. Future studies are needed to test whether giving people artificial sweeteners causes adverse effects on the brain.

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'What we do know is that the things we eat and drink can have an effect on our brain health.

"Both sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened soft drinks may be hard on the brain."

Diet drinks account for a quarter market of the total sweetened beverages.

The findings, appeared in the journal of Alzheimer's and Dementia, indicated that people who frequently consume sugary beverages such as sodas and fruit juices are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volumes and smaller hippocampal volumes - an area of the brain important for memory.

"I think the idea that the food that we take for granted might have health risks is really a fundamental concept", said Dr. Alan Lerner, the Director of Brain Health & Memory.

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Previous studies have looked at artificial sweeteners impact on stroke risk.