Diet drinks 'associated with dementia and stroke'

Two new studies suggest links between soft drinks, dementia and stroke

Similarly, dementia is rare in people younger than 60 years old.

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 participants were overwhelmingly white, and it is possible that ethnic preferences may influence how often people select sugary or artificially sweetened drinks, Pase said.

The researchers are still not sure whether diet drinks are causing strokes or dementia - or whether those who consume them are at higher risk anyway.

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.

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Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer's or another dementia.

Those who drank one or more artificially sweetened drinks daily had a 2.89 times higher risk of dementia, and 2.96 higher risk of stroke than people who had less than one of those drinks per week.

"Our study provides further evidence to link consumption of artificially sweetened beverages with the risk of stroke", the team concluded. Many people choose diet soft drinks in the belief that they are a healthier alternative to sugary drinks, but these too have been associated with an increase in metabolic and cardiovascular risk effects that can increase the risk of cerebrovascular disease and dementia.

'This interesting new study has pointed to higher rates of dementia in people who drink more artificially-sweetened drinks, but it doesn't show that these drinks are the cause of this altered risk.

As our readership is well aware, low-calorie sweeteners have been extensively reviewed by government safety authorities around the world, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and proven to be safe for consumption.

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The researchers found no association between the intake of sugar-sweetened drinks and the risk of stroke and dementia, although they caution that sugary beverages pose other harms to health. This is the first time diet sodas have been linked to dementia-although it's not that surprising, says Pase, since stroke is a risk factor.

Ralph Sacco, a co-author of the study, released an editorial published alongside the study in the journal Stroke on Thursday, saying that both ASBs and SSBs are "hard on the brain". "America's beverage companies support and encourage balanced lifestyles by providing people with a range of beverage choices -- with and without calories and sugar -- so they can choose the beverage that is right for them". The data was adjusted for a number of factors, including age, sex and caloric intake. Lead author Matthew Pase underlined that his team found only an association, not a cause-and-effect link.

And Dr James Pickett, of the Alzheimer's Society, added: "This research does not show that artificially sweetened drinks cause dementia".

Scientists believe the artificial sweeteners, which include aspartame and saccharine, could be affecting the blood vessels, eventually triggering dementia and/or strokes. "Surely we should be trying to help consumers reduce their calorie intake, not presenting unproven claims". "There is no simple relationship between what you are eating and drinking", said Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs for the Alzheimer's Association.

"We know that sugary and artificially sweetened beverages are not great for us". "A heart healthy diet is also good for your brain", she said.

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