Diet Soda Tied to Higher Risk of Dementia and Stroke

Diet Soda Tied to Higher Risk of Dementia and Stroke

He told Global News that the study participants who drank more diet sodas tended to have Type 2 diabetes.

Scientists have put forth various hypotheses about how artificial sweeteners may cause harm, from transforming gut bacteria to altering the brain's perception of "sweet", but "we need more work to figure out the underlying mechanisms", said Boston University's Matthew Pase, who is lead author on the two studies.

There was no association with stroke or dementia found in a parallel study of sugary drinks.

The study used data provided by the Framingham Heart Study, which had the participants fill out a detailed questionnaire on their food and drink intake in the 1990s. Almost 3,000 people aged over 45 years were subsequently monitored for the development of stroke, and nearly 1,500 people who were 60 years old or more were assessed for signs of dementia.

The new study in the journal Stroke says people who drink diet soda are three times as likely as those who don't to have a stroke or develop dementia.

Adults who have at least one diet drink a day are three times more at risk from a stroke or dementia, research shows today.

'Future studies will need to confirm these findings in other groups of people, and explore what might be underlying any link between artificially-sweetened soft drinks and dementia'.


Bottom line is, more research-especially studies that can delve deeper into cause and effect-must be done before any definitive conclusions can be reached about artificial sweetener's effect on the brain.

He cautioned that the association between artificially sweetened drinks and stroke and dementia seen in their study does not imply causation - a point emphasized by Marion Nestle, PhD, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, who wasn't involved in the study. According to a study done by Boston University's School of Medicine in the USA, the researchers found that both sugar and artificially-sweetened beverage consumption has been linked to cardio-metabolic risk factors.

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. Pase believes this is the first study to look at its association with risk of dementia – and he hopes the work will spur more research into the effects of these sweeteners on the brain.

They also mentioned that the observational design of the study precluded them from making causal links between artificially sweetened beverage consumption and the risks of stroke and dementia. Further, they mentioned that total sugary beverages and sugar-sweetened soft drinks were not associated with an increased risk of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. And according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), many risk factors can increase an individual's likelihood of developing stroke and dementia including age, hypertension, diabetes and genetics.

Both sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks are linked to the decrease of brain volume in a middle-aged group, same researchers found in a separate study. "Surely we should be trying to help consumers reduce their calorie intake, not presenting unproven claims".

Although the researchers took age, smoking, diet quality, and other factors into account, they could not completely control for preexisting conditions like diabetes, which may have developed over the course of the study and is a known risk factor for dementia.

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