People who drink diet soda daily are three times more likely to develop stroke and dementia, a new study warns. Researchers also found that people who drank sugary beverages such as sodas and fruit juices frequently are likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volumes and smaller hippocampal volumes. “Our findings indicate an association between higher sugary beverage intake and brain atrophy, including lower brain volume and poorer memory,” said Matthew Pase, from the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) in the US.
“We also found that people drinking diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia. 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.
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Excess sugar is known to have adverse effects on health. Diet soft drinks are often touted as a healthier alternative to regular soda.
However both sugar and artificially-sweetened beverage consumption has been linked to cardiometabolic risk factors, which increases the risk of cerebrovascular disease and dementia.
About 4,000 participants over the age of 30 from were examined using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and cognitive testing to measure the relationship between beverage intake and brain volumes as well as thinking and memory.
The researchers then monitored 2,888 participants age 45 and over for the development of a stroke and 1,484 participants age 60 and older for dementia for 10 years.
The researchers point out that preexisting conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure did not completely explain their findings.
For example, people who more frequently consumed diet soda were also more likely to be diabetic, which is thought to increase the risk of dementia.
However, even after excluding diabetics from the study, diet soda consumption was still associated with the risk of dementia.
The research was published in the journals Alzheimer’s & Dementia, and Stroke.