Diet Sodas Linked to Greater Risk of Dementia, Stroke

Do you prefer a diet coke or diet sodas, as a healthy drink? The truth is: these zero-calorie beverages may be doing you more harm than good! Yet another another study has raised fears that increased consumption of artificially sweetened drinks can have adverse effects on brain.

Artificial sweeteners have long been promoted as diet/weight loss and health aids. However, recent research shows artificially sweetened drinks, such as diet sodas, are bad for brain health.

A team of researchers from Boston’s University School of Medicine found a possible link between artificially sweetened drinks and a higher risk of stroke and dementia

In their study, the researchers learned that consumption of at least one artificially sweetened drink per day can triple the risk of developing deadly stroke or dementia, compared to intake of diet sodas less than once weekly.

In an animal study last year, aspartame – an artificial sweetener commonly found in diet sodas – was found to lead weight gain in mice.

The current research by Matthew Pase, Ph.D., a study co-author from the Department of Neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts, and his colleagues now suggest that harmful effects of this artificial sweeteners may extend to the brain.

For the study, Pase’s team looked at ten years’ worth of data from 2,888 adults older than 45 and 1,484 adults older than 60 living in the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. For at least seven years, the participants reported their dietary habits through food frequency questionnaires, which investigators used to determine their consumption of artificially sweetened beverages.

Over the next 10 years, the investigating team monitored the study subjects to see development of stroke and dementia among them. During the course of the study, the team identified 97 cases of stroke, of which 82 were of ischemic stroke; and a total of 81 cases of dementia, of which 63 were of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.

The adult participants who drank diet sodas at least once daily were found to be at three times increased risk of ischemic stroke and 2.9 times increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, as compared to those who consumed these beverages less than once per week.

“After adjustments for age, sex, education (for analysis of dementia), calorific intake, diet quality, physical activity and smoking, higher recent and higher cumulative intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks were associated with an increased risk of ischaemic stroke, all-cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease dementia,” the research read.

The study authors affirmed their study is the first to link daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drink with greater risk of dementia, but acknowledged that more research is needed to confirm the current findings.

“We have little data on the health effects of diet drinks and this is problematic because diet drinks are popular amongst the general population,” said Pase.

“More research is needed to study the health effects of diet drinks so that consumers can make informed choices concerning their health,” he concluded.

Pase and his colleagues published their findings in the journal Stroke.