Diet soda can increase risk of dementia and stroke, study finds

But a separate study by the same research team, published in the journal Alzheimer's and Dementia, suggests a high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is bad for your brain.

The study of 2,888 individuals age 45 and older looked for the development of a stroke and 1,484 participants age 60 and older for dementia over a 10-year period.

The researchers also found that those who drink one artificially-sweetened soft drink a day have almost three times the increased risk of getting diagnosed with dementia than those who don't.

"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.

In fact, researchers found that men and women who drank as little as one diet soda a day were at nearly 3 times the risk for stroke or dementia.

Scientists have put forth various hypotheses about how artificial sweeteners may cause harm, from transforming gut bacteria to altering the brain's perception of "sweet", but "we need more work to figure out the underlying mechanisms", said Boston University's Matthew Pase, who is lead author on the two studies. However, "diet sodas might not necessarily be a healthy alternative to sugar sweetened beverages".

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The authors therefore emphasized that brain damage such as stroke or dementia is a result of several factors and that the best prevention is to follow healthy living rules (balanced diet and physical exercise).

Researchers suggest this shows why people should at least be cautious about regularly consuming either diet sodas or sugary beverages.

There was no correlation found between sugary drinks and stroke or dementia. However, neither of them is hinting that people should avoid sugary drinks to reduce their risk of stroke or dementia, he added. That being said, you probably shouldn't go back to drinking regular soda because it has its own disadvantages-including heightening the risk for heart disease in women.

"The sample sizes are different because we studied people of different ages", Pase said.

Their findings only showed a link between daily consumption of diet sodas and increased likelihood of stroke and dementia. Out of 2,900 study participants, 82 suffered ischemic stroke, mainly caused by blockage of blood vessels.

In addition, an observational study can not prove a cause-and-effect link between a certain drink and the risk of developing a specific disease. One interesting thing about our study was that people were much more likely to drink diet beverages as compared to regular sodas.

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