Study suggests artificially sweetened drinks may be tied to dementia and stroke

The lead researcher of the study says more work needs to be done to study the health effects of diet drinks. According to a study published by American Heart Association journal Stroke, artificially sweetened drinks such as diet sodas have an adverse effect on the mental health of the consumer and may even be tied to dementia and stroke.

Those who drank a can of artificially sweetened soft drink per day were 2.96 times more likely to have an ischaemic stroke (when a blockage prevents blood flow to the brain) and 2.89 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, than those who drank them less than once a week.

"The sample sizes are different because we studied people of different ages", said Matthew Pase, a senior research fellow at the neurology department at Boston University School of Medicine and lead author of the study.

Seshadri explains that the consumption of sugary drinks does not appear to have positive aspects, and that replacing them with artificially-sweetened drinks does not protect one either.

For the studies, researchers used data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), a study that aims to identify common factors or characteristics that contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The researchers looked at people who consumed more than two sugary drinks a day of any type - soda, fruit juice and other soft drinks - or more than three per week of soda alone.

The observational studies were based on 2,888 people from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohort, who have been providing data since 1971. The researchers also observed that having a minimum of one diet soda per day was linked with reduced brain volume.

Although the study did not find an association between stroke or dementia and the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, switching to beverages sweetened with sugar isn't necessarily better for the brain, Pase said.

The study made adjustments for age, sex, education (for dementia), calorie intake, diet quality, physical activity and smoking. However, they found that people who drank at least one diet soda per day were nearly three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia. But, one should not that, many studies conducted in past have shown the health risks linked with the consumption of beverages loaded with artificial sweeteners.

Pase, M., Himali, J., Jacques, P., DeCarli, C., Satizabal, C., Aparicio, H., Vasan, R., Beiser, A. and Seshadri, S. (2017).

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