Having diet drinks every day 'significantly increases stroke and dementia risk'

Diet coke

“So, the bottom line is, ‘Have more water and have less diet soda, ” he said.

The people who drank at least one artificially-sweetened beverage a day were three times as likely to develop a ischemic stroke and 2.9 times as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease dementia.

During the study, 2,888 people over the age of 45 had MRI scans and cognitive tests to investigate the relationship between the brain and fizzy drinks.

"There are many studies now suggesting detrimental effects of sugary beverages, but I think we also need to consider the possibility that diet drinks may not be healthy alternatives", Matthew P. Pase, Ph.D., Boston University School of Medicine, Massachusetts and study's lead author told the news outlet. "We recommend that people drink water on a regular basis instead of sugary or artificially sweetened beverages", said Mr Pase. After ten years, the researchers did a follow up to check on who had suffered strokes or dementia.

The researchers suggest that people should be cautious about regularly consuming either diet sodas or sugary beverages. The study, according to some critics, did not identify any particular mechanism to explain how drinking sweetened beverages damages the brain so it was not possible to conclude that sweetened drinks caused brain damage.

"Artificially sweetened soft drink consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke and dementia".

In addition, they noted that daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks was associated with an increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer's disease, although the associations were not significant when they adjusted for several variables.

The Stroke study, meanwhile, found an association with artificially sweetened beverages and stroke and dementia, while not finding a similar association for consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, an observation the authors characterized as "intriguing". 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. "It looks like there is not very much of an upside to having sugary drinks, and substituting the sugar with artificial sweeteners doesn't seem to help".

But scientists need to unfold why people are reaching for diet drinks: do they make the decision because they have vascular disease, risk factors for chronic disease, or they have a taste preference? "The Alzheimer's Association points out that the greatest risk factors for Alzheimer's are increasing age, family history of Alzheimer's, and genetics - not sugar intake, from any source", it said in a statement emailed to NBC. Then from 2001 to 2011, the people who drank one artificially sweetened drink per day in that period were found to be nearly three times as likely to have an ischemic stroke or be diagnosed with dementia, compared to those who never drank such beverages.

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

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

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