Diet Beverages Linked to Greater Risk of Stroke, Dementia

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"I don't think we have the evidence to tell people to stop drinking artificially sweetened beverages, but I don't think we have the evidence to tell people that switching to drinking them will improve their brain health", said Hannah Gardener.

Interestingly, the research did not find a link between stroke or dementia with the consumption of non-diet, regular sugary drinks, such as full fat Coke.

According to the findings of this study, compared to people who never consume a "light" drink, those who consume it once a day would be nearly 3 times more likely to have an ischemic stroke and nearly 3 times more likely to develop dementia At an advanced age. "Absolutely the message is not to switch to sugary drinks", she said. The main limitation, Pase said, is the important point that an observational study like this can not prove that drinking artificially-sweetened drinks is linked to strokes or dementia, but it does identify an intriguing trend that will need to be explored in other studies.

"As the consumption of artificially sweetened soft drinks is increasing in the community, along with the prevalence of stroke and dementia, future research is needed", they added.

"Just because they say "diet" doesn't mean they're a healthy alternative to sugary drinks".

"When the authors controlled for hypertension and diabetes and obesity the effects diminish, which implies that some of the effects of artificially sweetened beverages could still be going through a vascular pathway", he said about the new study. That would make diet soda a marker of a high-risk person, rather that an independent causal risk factor for stroke or dementia, according to researchers in an accompanying editorial in Stroke.

People who drink sugary beverages frequently are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus - an area of the brain important for learning and memory, said the study published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia. "There is no simple relationship between what you are eating and drinking", said Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs for the Alzheimer's Association.

"In our study, 3% of the people had a new stroke and 5% developed dementia, so we're still talking about a small number of people developing either stroke or dementia".

The researchers suggest that people should be cautious about regularly consuming either diet sodas or sugary beverages.

The researchers controlled for several other risk factors, including age, sex, caloric intake, education, diabetes, and the presence of genetic risk factors for Alzheimer's.

The American Beverage Association concurred.

"We're not suggesting to go back to sugar sweetened beverages", he added.

Water is always a good option, doctors agree. Studies show that people who drink regular, moderate amounts of coffee are less likely to die from a range of diseases, from diabetes to heart disease.

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