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

Posted April 22, 2017

Some people resort to diet drinks in an effort to lose weight but studies also appear to contradict this idea.

However, Pase admits that that overall risk isn't that big.

"Any sugar-sweetened drinks or artificially sweetened drinks should be minimized in any diet", she said.

Among the study participants tracked during the study, there were 97 cases (3 percent) of stroke, 82 of which were ischemic (caused by blockage of blood vessels), and 81 (5 percent) cases of dementia, 63 of which were diagnosed as Alzheimer's disease.

"We're not sure if people who are unhealthy are more likely to choose diet beverages or if diet beverages lead to a higher risk of eating more sugar", Pase explained.

He's a senior fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine.

Pase agrees that, until more is known, it's smart to limit both types of soft drinks. Earlier in 2007, another study concluded that those who drink diet soda are no less at risk of developing heart disease compared to those who drink regular soda.

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Still, people should be "cautious" about their intake of diet sodas, Pase said, noting that more study is needed.

It's nothing new that diet fizzy drinks aren't good for us, but a new study has confirmed just how unhealthy they are. Therefore, some experts caution that the findings should be interpreted carefully. They do not prove any causal link between the consumption of artificially sweetened drinks and stroke or dementia.

Is there a healthy option?

The researchers studied 2,888 participants above the age of 45 for incident of stroke, and 1,484 over the age of 60 for dementia. Ischemic stroke and Alzheimer's disease dementia were common in such people who drank diet sodas regularly.

All participants filled in questionnaires on their food and drink intake at three separate points during the 1990s.

Scientists added that even if someone is three times more likely to suffer a stroke or develop dementia, it doesn't mean it is a certain fate.

For their two studies published in the journals Alzheimer's & Dementia and Stroke, the researchers were careful to consider age, smoking, diet quality, and other factors into account.

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The researchers didn't find any link between sugary beverages and either the stroke or dementia, but even it is not encouraged to drink those either.

Researchers said they only found an association between artificially sweetened beverages and the health issues - not that the drinks directly caused them.

"The FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration], World Health Organization, European Food Safety Authority and others have extensively reviewed low-calorie sweeteners and have all reached the same conclusion they are safe for consumption", the association added.

The number of people in the study was also limited. "One would assume having less sugar is best for the brain, but this might make us think twice about our assumptions". "The evidence is clear that drinking water is healthy", Gardener said.

"Thus, under-adjustment is possible, i.e. more accurate and/or valid measurement of blood pressure and other covariates may lead to less strong association".

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