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Study finds diet soda may raise risk of stroke, dementia

Diet sodas may be tied to stroke, dementia risk Diet Soda May Increase Risks For Dementia And Stroke
Cris De Lacerda | 23 Abril, 2017, 12:56

While this study did find an association, what does that really mean for us, especially those of us who are diet soda drinkers?

"Our study shows a need to put more research into this area given how often people drink artificially-sweetened beverages", said Matthew Pase, a senior fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University, Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, and the Framingham Heart Study, a US health project that kicked off in 1948 to identify factors contributing to cardiovascular disease.

Consuming artificial sweeteners found in diet drinks were found to be linked with stroke and dementia.

"We have little data on the health effects of diet drinks and this is problematic because diet drinks are popular amongst the general population", Matthew Pase, a senior research fellow in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and lead author of the new study, told CNN.

According to a new study published Thursday in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke, adults who have at least one diet drink a day are three times more at risk from a stroke or dementia.

Some studies have shown that diet soda is associated with vascular disease, which might have effects in the brain.

In the study cited in Alzheimer's & Dementia, the researchers found that higher consumption of sugary beverages was associated with a pattern consistent with preclinical Alzheimer's, including smaller total brain volume and poorer episodic memory. And out of almost 1,500 adults over 60, 81 developed Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. There was no correlation for sugar-sweetened beverages with stroke or dementia.

In addition to being an observational study which can not prove cause and effect, the authors note the study several other limitations, including that the overwhelming majority of participants were white.

Over the next decade, subjects who consumed one artificially sweetened soft drink each day had nearly three times the risk of having ischemic stroke - the condition when an artery to the brain becomes blocked -compared to those who never drank these soda products.

"It's important to realize that our study can not draw cause and effect between beverage intake and the risk of stroke or the risk of dementia", said Pase.

Despite the fact that the analysts considered age, smoking, abstain from food quality, and different components, they couldn't totally control for prior conditions like diabetes, which may have created through the span of the review and is a known hazard calculate for dementia. When diabetics were excluded from the calculations, the association still remained. The U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that Americans consumed about 11 million metric tons a year ago.

"In our study, three percent of the people had a new stroke and five percent developed dementia, so we're still talking about a small number of people developing either stroke or dementia", said Pase.

In an editorial accompanying the Stroke study, neurologists from the University of Miami and the University of Munster in Germany write that current research is inconclusive about whether diet beverages actually contribute to an increased risk of stroke, dementia, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

Many of us opt for diet sodas over their more sugary alternatives, assuming the word "diet" means these beverages are better for our health.

The participants were overwhelmingly white, and it is possible that ethnic preferences may influence how often people select sugary or artificially sweetened drinks, Pase said.