Those who drink diet soda extensively are at an increased risk of suffering from dementia and stroke, a new study has reveled.
According to the study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, artificially sweetened drinks puts people at great risk of a number of diseases by taking a toll on their brain. Scientists behind the study are quick to admit that they only have evidence that could establish an association and not concrete cause-and-effect relationship. Therefore, some experts caution that the findings should be interpreted carefully.
The new study involved data on 2,888 adults older than 45, and 1,484 adults older than 60 from the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. In the older-than-45 group, the researchers measured for stroke and in the older-than-60 group, they measured for dementia.
“The sample sizes are different because we studied people of different ages. Dementia is rare in people under the age of 60 and so we focused only on those aged over 60 years for dementia. Similarly, stroke is rare in people aged under 45 and so we focused on people older than age 45 for stroke,” said Matthew Pase, a senior research fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and lead author of the new study.
Compared to never drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks, those who drank one a day were almost three times as likely to have an ischemic stroke, caused by blocked blood vessels, the researchers found.
Scientists also found that those who drank one a day were nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with dementia. Those who drank one to six artificially sweetened beverages a week were 2.6 times as likely to experience an ischemic stroke but were unlikely to develop dementia, Pase observed.