Diet Soft Drinks Triple The Risk of Dementia

Drinking at least one artificially sweetened beverage daily was associated with nearly three times the risk of developing a stroke or dementia.

Given the substantial scientific literature favoring the safety of low-calorie sweeteners, this latest study - which does not prove cause and effect - will have little impact on the ongoing discourse concerning the safety of low-calorie sweeteners and, in particular, diet sodas, in the long term. 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. They do not prove any causal link between the consumption of artificially sweetened drinks and stroke or dementia. A number of risk factors already known to be linked stroke and dementia, such as age, sex, daily calorie intake, education, diabetes and genetic predisposition were taken into account to hone in on the specific effects of drinking diet drinks.

It also outlined that the study is observational and based on food questionnaires and that further studies were needed on the links between drinks, dementia and stroke. "This included a higher risk of ischemic stroke, where blood vessels in the brain become obstructed and Alzheimer's disease dementia, the most common form of dementia", he said. "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". However, even after excluding diabetics from the study, diet soda consumption was still associated with the risk of dementia. They then followed up with the participants for the next 10 years to see who developed stroke or dementia and then compared dietary habits to the risk of developing these health problems.

They also displayed a deficit equivalent to 13-years of age-related deterioration in memory function, compared with people who did not drink sugary beverages.

One study found that people who frequently drink sugary beverages including soft drinks, sports drinks and fruit juices are more likely to have poorer memory and smaller brain volumes.

He said: "Both sugar and artificially-sweetened soft drinks may be hard on the brain".

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Together we consumed almost 11 million metric tons of it in 2016, according to the US Department of Agriculture, much of it in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages like sports drinks and soda.

But the study already has its critics, as researchers admit they could not find that actual cause-and-effect relationship between the two.

Previous studies have looked at artificial sweeteners impact on stroke risk.

The number of sugary beverages and artificially sweetened soft drinks that the subjects consumed was monitored between 1991 and 2001.

"They may have a role for people with diabetes and in weight loss, but we encourage people to drink water, low-fat milk, or other beverages without added sweeteners".

"I think the idea that the food that we take for granted might have health risks is really a fundamental concept", said Dr. Alan Lerner, the Director of Brain Health & Memory.